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 and his disciples were walking through a field of grain.  It was the Sabbath.  The disciples were hungry and, without thinking, they began to pick some of the grain and then eat it.  There were several Pharisees who saw the disciples do this.  They immediately approached Jesus and told him that his disciples’ action was unlawful since it was the Sabbath.  No work was to be done on the Sabbath.   Not only were the disciples picking the grain, they also were eating grain they did not have the right to eat!

It may be helpful to know that in the time of Jesus, the farmers were encouraged to leave some wheat on the edges of fields for the poor to eat.   Thus, Jesus and the disciples were not stealing grain from the farmers, rather, they were doing what was customary.  Yet the Pharisees seized this opportunity to criticize Jesus. 

Jesus responded to the Pharisees’ question by using the example of David from the Old Testament.  When David and his companions were hungry, they went into the House of God and ate the bread offering that only the priests were allowed to eat.  Jesus then asked the Pharisees:  “Do you consider David’s act unlawful?”  He also reminded them that at varying times throughout history, the priests of the temple had violated the Sabbath.  Did the Pharisees consider these priests guilty or innocent of a crime?  Jesus then states: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”  

Mercy is a great gift.  It is a gift when we receive mercy from Jesus!  However, it also is a great gift 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 if you did not deserve it.

Jesus always encourages us to do what is loving, kind, and sensible.  Law is important and essential; 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.  For Jesus, the law of love always reigns supreme.  Today, may the law of love reign in our lives!

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