It happened that Jesus walked through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and began to pick some heads of wheat and crush them to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, «Look at your disciples; they are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!». Jesus answered, «Have you not read what David did when he and his men were hungry? He went into the house of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, although neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the Temple break the Sabbath rest, yet they are not guilty? I tell you, there is greater than the Temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words: ‘It is mercy I want, not sacrifice’, you would not have condemned the innocent. Besides the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath».
What is the main subject of this gospel? Though apparently it may seems to be that Jesus is the master of Sabbath and filled with mercy and love, I see deep into this gospel, particularly for the daily application of this gospel message, it is the question of discernment.
The civil society and the family where we life have established lots of rules and regulations, and there are few customs that we follow blindly. Like listening to the teachers, obeying the parents, are some of the value system which help us to grow in the society as a well-disciplined person. Today Jesus is asking us to discern what is important. Blindly listen to the parents or teachers, or discern the message and the intention of the people? Though for an example listening or obeying the parents may be rightly honoured and expected, when the parents are weak and lack in their capacity of discernment, should we still obey them, or politely withdraw from their proposal? (Though the society may judge us as disobedient child, for example). Looking every individual with love and mercy, will help us to choose the right way of acting with patience and compassion.
Many of us have the temptation to blindly follow the rules and regulations, to be politically correct in our approach, without being merciful and kind towards the weak person of our society. Every shifting can quite be a challenge and have the risk of being identified as displacement. Jesus is on movement and we should learn to move from one place to the other easily and courageously. There will be always accusations and judgements, but like Jesus, we should protect the weak and abandoned with courage.
«It is mercy I want, not sacrifice»
Fr. Josep RIBOT i Margarit
Today, the Lord is closing in the wheat fields of our lives, to pick the fruits of sanctity. Will He find charity, love of God and fellow man? Will Jesus, that corrects the rabbis' meticulous casuistry making the Sabbath rest law totally unbearable, have to remind us that He is only interested in our heart, in our capacity to love?
«Look at your disciples; they are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!» (Mt 12:2). And the unbelievable thing is they sincerely meant it. How can anyone forbid doing always a good deed? There is something reminding us no reason could exist excusing us from not helping others. True charity respects the demands for justice, by avoiding our falling into arbitrariness or whim, while preventing harshness to kill the true spirit of God's Law; for charity is nothing but a continuous invitation to loving, to give ourselves to others.
«It is mercy I want, not sacrifice» (Mt 12:7). Let us repeat it many times to engrave it on our heart: God, who is rich in mercy, wants us to be merciful. «How close God is of he who confess his mercy! Yes; God is not far from those contrite at heart» (St. Augustine). And how far away from God are we when we let our heart turn into hard stone!
Jesus Christ accused the Pharisees of condemning the innocent. That is a serious accusation. But what about us? Are we seriously interested in other people's problems? Do we consider them with affection and sympathy, as if we were judging a friend or a brother? Let us try not to lose our way, after all.
We beg you, O Mother of God, to make us merciful and to show us how to forgive. Let us be benevolent and kind. And if we discover in our life some details that do not fit at the heart of this disposition, now is a good time to rectify them, by formulating some effective purpose.