Daily Reflection – July 15, 2016
Friday 15 July 2016
Isaiah 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8
You saved my life, O Lord, I shall not die
Isaiah 38:10-12, 16
Gospel Reading: Matthew 12:1-8
Today’s Saint: St Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath.
His disciples were hungry
and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him,
“See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.”
He said to the them, “Have you not read what David did
when he and his companions were hungry,
how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering,
which neither he nor his companions
but only the priests could lawfully eat?
Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath
the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath
and are innocent?
I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.
If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
you would not have condemned these innocent men.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”
I desire mercy, not sacrifice. (Matthew 12:7)
Why did Jesus let his disciples break the Sabbath Law? After all, the third commandment tells us to keep the Sabbath holy. Does Jesus really allow us to cast aside rules when they inconvenience us? Not at all.
The Pharisees in this passage were looking at the disciples’ actions through a filter of judgment. Instead of seeing them as individuals, they immediately branded the disciples as lawbreakers and were scandalized when Jesus didn’t rebuke them. But this wasn’t how Jesus saw things. He chose mercy as his starting point, not judgment. Like David’s warriors, they were tired and hungry from serving God. Surely they could be forgiven this minor infraction.
What a wonderful way to approach our relationships, especially in church! When we feel that someone is falling short of our expectations, we can choose mercy over judgment. That doesn’t mean glossing over sin, but it does mean trying to treat people with the respect and honor they deserve as children of God. Our fellow parishioners, even our pastor, can fall short of our ideals. However, they all have great dignity in God’s eyes. Who are we to cast off someone whom Jesus has seen fit to redeem? Who are we to condemn someone whom Jesus has died for?
There is another benefit to choosing mercy as our starting point instead of judgment: it tends to make us more peaceful! We are not keeping an eye out for offenses but are looking at blessings. We are not focusing on human sin as much as divine grace. And that tends to open our eyes to the good in the world—which, in turn, has the power to encourage and inspire us.
There is so much to rejoice in. There are so many blessings to thank the Lord for. Fixing our hearts on these can bring unity more effectively than looking for trouble. After all, “The Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath” (Matthew 12:8). It’s his job, not ours, to be concerned with the conscience of each person he has made.
“Jesus, you are forgiving and compassionate. Instead of trying to trap us in our sins, you offer mercy. Thank you for your love!”