I Desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice

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In the first reading today, we see God giving Moses and Aaron instructions for the Passover. This is a passage of Scripture that we hear each year on Holy Thursday. Just as God commanded the children of Israel to eat the flesh of the lamb, so we, too, must eat the Flesh of the Lamb of God that we may live.

In our Gospel reading from Matthew 12, the Pharisees see Jesus’ disciples picking and eating heads of grain on the sabbath. This ran contrary to the law. The Pharisees become indignant. Jesus then tells them about David and his companions “breaking the law” by eating the bread of offering, which only the priests could lawfully eat. He then says to the Pharisees, “If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men.”

Rules and laws are good and necessary. But they needn’t be the be-all and the end-all. Here’s an example: Let’s say you volunteer to work at a soup kitchen. You take Sundays off to honor the sabbath. But one Sunday you find out that no one else can work at the soup kitchen. People are still hungry. Do you go to work to make sure that the hungry are fed? If you answered yes, then you get it. (By the way, you still made it to Mass, of course!)

Father, we know that sacrifice is a good thing. But teach us to never let it trump mercy in our lives. Amen.

Today’s Readings


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