Gospel Message & Recording
The “show bread,” sometimes referred to as the “shew bread,” is also called the “Bread of Presence.” This bread was placed on a table in the Holy Place of the Temple after the Sabbath; and then eaten by the Priest at the end of the week. There were twelve loaves of show bread, one each for the twelve tribes of Israel. The Priests of the temple would consume the show bread. Scholars say that originally it was an offering to God. Later on, in time, the Priest would consume the bread as the representative of God.
In the Gospel reading today, we hear of King David entering the Holy Place with some of the men that were in his army. Due to his hunger, David ate the show bread and gave some to his companions. What we see is something very practical. David and his friends were hungry and so they grabbed and ate what they could get their hands on. We could all relate to this in some way or the other. Further, we advocate for David and his friends even if it seems as though they broke the religious rules. However, there is a spiritual aspect to this Bible passage, which needs further exploration.
When we see how David boldly went into the Holy Place, a place that only a Priest was allowed to enter; and further, eat the bread of presence, a bread only a Priest was allowed to eat, it shows us “spiritually” that when we need “the bread of presence,” which for us now is no longer the “bread,” but Christ himself, then we need not seek permission, but simply enter into his presence, where ever we are.
In a way, David was demonstrating that the Holy Place was not only a place for Priests; but also a place for everyone to enter, because Christ died and rose again so that we can have access to the Holy Place. It was a sort of foreshadowing of the royal priesthood, which would be bestowed on all, who believed in Christ.
The Priesthood is a divine institution, which was established by Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is holy and divine. No one is arguing that here! Nevertheless, the Orthodox Christians have a tendency to over emphasis the Priesthood and reemphasize the lay-ministry. Indeed, the practical implications of Priesthood are much more heavier and serious than lay-ministry in the Orthodox Church, but that does not mean lay ministry is a minor calling. In fact, without lay-ministry, the Priest would not be able to function successfully in the parish. Lay people have the gifts of the Holy Spirit and should be allowed to use them in ministry with guidance from the Priests and Bishops. This is so because the Holy Place “spiritually” speaking is not a place reserved for the Priests and Bishops only; but rather, all who believe in Christ and live holy lives can receive the myriad gifts of the Holy Spirit and use them in the Church.
So if you are here today and feel a certain distance from God, know that He is with you everywhere. You have access to Him at all times. The Holy Place is no longer a physical place, but a spiritual state of being. You and I, regardless of ordination, can reach that “holy place” through our faith in Christ and love for others. Never underestimate your full potential in the Church due to some male-dominate clergy who seek power and recognition and are unwilling to give others opportunities due their insecurities and fears. Beyond all these human failings, the Church and Her Priesthood are pure and holy. Let us all as the royal priesthood work together for the glory of God.