“Look!” the Pharisees said to him, “why are they doing what is not allowed on the Sabbath?”
wise opponents keep us guessing
once they asked me about you
now they ask you about me
a little explanation hems us in
one rationale now will resurface
in another setting to further accuse
the only strength we have
is in knowing what every slave
knows about their master
blame is based on perception and whim
every corner of ritual must be defended
slave-phobia can never be admitted
since blame and misrepresentation
are expected every day from any angle
know a larger frame of belovedness
here there is no law against sharing
no injunction to representative purity
only a hard tension of virtue and community
“Blemish” is an ancient transactional game similar to finding someone to blame before we are held to blame. We look for someone’s weakness or distance from a given mean of behavior.
Having identified what their wrong is, puts us in a good position from which we can protect our own wrongness. So we have a notice of action quickly turned into an accusation.
With the crop ripe enough for harvest, it is easy to see the disciples as reaping and eating rather than gleaning, after a harvest, or finding a gum-like chewing substitute. Seeing wrong at work is particularly easy after having several run-ins with Jesus. Obviously there is some malice aforethought going on here.
Rather than follow the same game-plan as before—running directly at Jesus—it is time to try a triangling ploy of tacking at the disciples. This is an easy one to catch when it is happening to someone else, but when surprised we can easily slip into excuse mode rather than to find the main thread of the distress and address it.
To be called to be an announcer of good news is as dramatic as a call to leave the familiarity of Egypt for a land of one’s own. This exodus is a wilderness journey and manna (at hand food) is directly tied to Sabbath. Later restrictions on what was or was not acceptable on Sabbath began to take precedence over earlier understandings. So we have now later versus earlier understandings of Sabbath/Food connections. This same dynamic is present in every argument.