Friday, July 17, 2015

Reflection: Matthew 12:1-8

Friday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time – Matthew 12:1-8

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is talking with his disciples as they were walking through a field of grain on the Sabbath. The disciples were hungry, and without thinking, they began to pick and then eat the grain. There were several Pharisees who saw the disciples do this. They immediately approached Jesus and told him that his disciples’ action was unlawful. After all, it was the Sabbath! No work was to be done on the Sabbath. (Talk about the “letter of the law!”) In addition, they were eating grain that they did not have the right to eat!

Jesus replied to their question by using the example of David from the Old Testament. After all, when David and his companions were hungry, they brazenly went into the house of God and ate the bread offering that only the priests were allowed to eat. Jesus asked them: “Did they consider David’s act unlawful?” At times, even some of the priests of the temple had violated the Sabbath! Did they consider these priests innocent? Jesus then says to them: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

In the time of Jesus, farmers were encouraged to leave some wheat on the edge of the field for the poor to eat. Thus, Jesus and the disciples were not stealing grain from the farmers. Mercy is a great gift. It is a gift when we receive mercy from Jesus but also when we are gifted with mercy from another person. Do you remember a time in your life when someone was merciful or compassionate with you? They may have been kind and understanding even when you did not “deserve” it.

Jesus always encourages us to do what is loving and sensible. Yes, law is important. However, if we are not careful, we may make the law our god. And this is not the God that Jesus wants us to worship! True, we do need laws. However, the “law of love” always reigns supreme! Today, may we let the “law of love” reign in our lives!

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