A reading from the holy Gospel according to 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 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.”

REFLECTION: " I desire mercy, not sacrifice.."

There are many annoying people in the world. We endure each others mannerisms, nagging, quirkiness and shortcomings. High up on the list of annoying people in the time of Jesus were the Pharisees. The Pharisees were considered the most expert and accurate interpreters of Jewish law. They knew the laws and traditions of the Jewish people and they were ready to enforce every little bit of law that was broken.

Such was what faced Jesus and and his hungry disciples when on the sabbath they took off the heads of the grain to eat. The Sabbath rest was a day to remember God's goodness, His many works, and a day to praise God. Everyday work was to come to a halt for a much needed rest. Even picking off the heads of grain was considered work. .

In the Ten Commandments, what does "keep holy the Sabbath" require of us? Jesus defended his disciples and quoted Hosea 6:6: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice.." Mercy and kindness in response to human need is important. The Pharisees had over 600 commandments besides the Ten Commandments. They overlooked mercy and kindness over the man made laws.

We are encouraged to do the corporal works of mercy--even on Sunday

God Bless You

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