“Criticism of others is thus an oblique form of self-commendation. We think we make the picture hang straight on our wall by telling our neighbors that all his pictures are crooked.” - Fr. Fulton J. Sheen
(Gospel Text: Mt 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."
Why did Jesus let his disciples break the Sabbath law? The Pharisees were right, weren’t they? 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.
«Look at your disciples; they are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!» (Mt 12:2). And the unbelievable thing the Phariesees sincerely meant it. How can anyone forbid someone from doing a good deed? This gospel message is reminding us that there is no reason which can exist that excuses us from not helping others.
«It is mercy I want, not sacrifice» (Mt 12:7).
When we feel that someone is falling short of our expectations, we should chose mercy as a starting point, not judgment. Now, that doesn’t mean glossing over sin, but it does mean always 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 so much to be grateful for. There are so many blessings to thank the Lord for. Fixing our hearts on these can bring unity far 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 probe people’s consciences.