In the first reading today from Isaiah 38, King Hezekiah is on his death bed. He cries and prays, and the LORD answers his prayer and the prophet Isaiah informs the king that he will be given another fifteen years of life.
In the Gospel reading from Matthew 12, the Pharisees see Jesus’ disciples picking heads of grain on the sabbath. This was considered work, breaking the law. So the Pharisees gave Jesus a hard time about it. Jesus answers them, “If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men.”
The Pharisees were great at sacrifice. They did all the right things, followed the laws to the letter. That’s not a bad thing. Unfortunately, they tended to take it too far. They forgot to include mercy. Rules are a good thing, but we must always remember the person. If someone is hungry, you feed them. If you have to choose between mercy and sacrifice, always err on the side of mercy.
Father, thank you for being merciful to us. May we always choose mercy over sacrifice. Amen.