Pigs, rules and gates
Today’s gospel reading is an unusual collection of Jesus’ sayings! It is as though you had looked up “Jesus quotes” on your search engine and up popped a collection of unrelated pithy statements that were thrown together without any context!
And this is probably what is happening here; it is unlikely that Jesus ever sat down and spoke these words as they are written in this text. This is the gospel author putting down in writing the things they believed were most important in what they heard Jesus say over the course of his public ministry.
Knowing this gives us a chance to imagine the contexts that led to each of these sayings. What had happened, for example, that led Jesus to say “Do not give to dogs what is holy”? Had the disciples been abused by someone? How had what they said been “trampled on”? Has something like this ever happened to me?
And there in the middle, hidden between these two other sayings, is the whole “meaning of the Law and the Prophets”! A friend of mine who is a teacher once wrote an exam and towards the end of what were quite lengthy instructions on the front page, she included the answer to one of the questions. She was testing, not their knowledge, but their attention. It is almost as though the gospel writers are doing the same.
Are we paying attention?