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.” (Matthew 12:1-8)
“If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men.”
The Pharisees allowed evil into their hearts when they accused Jesus and his disciples of breaking the sabbath. Love did not rule in their hearts, because they were too busy finding fault with others.
Jesus showed both compassion and mercy toward his disciples who were hungry and walking through a field of grain on the sabbath. Who wouldn’t have compassion for them? It would have been terribly hard walking through acres and acres of food when you are famished, and not be allowed to eat any of it. Rules do not make any sense if they do not serve the ultimate good of human beings.
Like the Pharisees, it’s so easy for us to judge based only on what we see but what we see is often a false representation of a person’s identity. Unlike us who easily judge, He doesn’t, what is important for Jesus is mercy, what is important for Jesus is the goodness of a person’s heart.
How are we going to spread the goodness of Jesus if we are overly strict and judgmental and if we are not gentle and understanding? The Pharisees in our gospel were judgmental they want their laws to be strictly followed. But the irony of it all is they were also the silent violators of the laws that they have self-servingly created.
The lack of true heartfelt empathy is a clear sign of a certain psychological, emotional and even spiritual disorder. This is mentioned because the opposite is true also. The presence of true heartfelt empathy is a sign that one is psychologically, emotionally and spiritually healthy. Empathy means that you are aware of the other. You sense when someone is hurting or when they are joyful.
It is the countless mercy of God our Father and the Son that makes Christianity so unique. It is “The Way” because Christ is the bridge. God and Jesus both love us in the same way. Jesus goes to where we are at in life, to bring his love to us personally as He did in today’s Gospel. Our faith calls us to go throughout the world and to baptize our brothers and sisters with living water. We are not called to just feed the poor, but to go out and give the Bread of Life. We are not called to strike the sinner, but to raise our hand in prayer and lift them up with God’s grace and mercy.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, I pray that my heart will become an instrument of Your own merciful Heart. In any way that I lack the empathy and compassion flowing from Your Heart, bring me healing. And in every way that I have been blessed to experience the struggles and joys of others on account of sharing in Your Mercy, I thank You. Lord, my deep desire is to share in Your life and love so that my heart may become like unto Yours. Jesus, I trust in You.
Reflect, today, upon your empathy or lack thereof. What takes place within your mind, heart and emotions when you encounter either the joys or the sufferings of another. Do you walk right past them, not caring and not engaging them? Or do you see their humanity, recognize their dignity, and treat them with care, compassion and respect? Empathy is ultimately all about the dignity of each and every person and our ability to acknowledge that dignity through our thoughts, feelings, words and actions. Try to honestly look at your own empathy today and if you are surprised at a lacking in this area, look deeper at the reason why. But if you see yourself blessed with a heart of compassion, filled with an awareness of the other, then rejoice because your heart is sharing in and dispensing the Mercy of God.