Desire for Mercy

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Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Matthew 12:1-8 

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 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.”

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I want to be free from any anxiety, fear, or burden that inhibits me from receiving the gift of your unconditional mercy and love. 

Encountering Christ:

  1. Good Conflict: Throughout the Gospels, we can feel the rising tension and conflict escalating between Jesus and the religious authorities of the time. Jesus fearlessly provoked and probed them to unveil the vain obligation behind their religious practices regarding fasting, purity, observance of the Sabbath, etc. He didn’t use biblical arguments with his enemies to prove them wrong, but rather desired for them to experience him as love itself: the very objective of the Law. Jesus proclaimed himself greater than the temple, even Lord of the Sabbath itself. In our day, many conflicts arise regarding faith practices and moral obligations. Where there is healthy conflict there is the opportunity to understand and question our motive to love God above all else. Conflicts form part of our faith journey in our ongoing process of conversion.
  2. A Relationship of Love: What happened in the hearts of the Pharisees can easily happen to us. We can become so attached to our efforts to pursue pious practices that we lose sight of why we are doing them in the first place. Worse still, we can then be quick to point out where others are falling short in fulfilling rules, obligations, and practices. From Christ’s perspective, religion is above all else a relationship of love with him. We express our love for him with the affections of faith through our devotion to him in all activities that shape our lives. Let us ask for the grace to see where we may have fallen into a hollow routine, false assumptions, or criticism of others to receive God’s mercy and start again with the right intention.
  3. Mercy above All: For God, deeds of goodness, generosity, and kindness will be favored over the mere performance of dutiful obligations. In all things, he calls us to love in the way we see ourselves and others, and the way we relate with God and with all creation. The law has found its fullness in Jesus: Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). Jesus walks with us to instruct our hearts not solely to sacrifice, but to make evident God’s tender mercy. We are to pride ourselves on how we give ourselves in love, not just in what we accomplish or do.

Conversing with Christ: Jesus, do not let me get stuck in complacency or in any habit of finding fault with others. Show me, Lord, where I am falling into a routine and taking the graces you give me for granted. Help me to listen, to turn to your Word calling me to live in the freedom to do everything out of love for you. 

Resolution: Lord, by your grace I will renew my covenant of love with you by respecting how I dedicate my time each Sunday to prepare for Mass and spend time in prayer and rest. 

For Further Reflection: Delve deeper with any of the Retreat Guides on Mercy at, or pray A Divine Mercy Meditation Novena featuring original artwork and spiritual reflections by Fr. Michael Mitchell, LC.

Written by Lucy Honner, CRC.

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