THEME: GOD OF MERCY AND LOVE.
BY: Fr. Karabari Paul
HOMILYFOR FRIDAY JULY 15 2022
‘For the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath.’
In the Old Testament there were more religious laws than anybody could possibly keep: over six hundred. Then Jesus came and opened up ‘the fresh, new, life-giving way…for us’ to have a relationship with God.
One of the chief areas of conflict between Jesus and his opponents was in keeping the Sabbath. In the Gospel of today (Matthew 12:1-8), Jesus is criticized by religious leaders for allowing His followers to pluck and eat grain on the Sabbath. The Pharisees regarded this as work, which was forbidden on the Sabbath. Jesus dismisses both their interpretation and their motivation. He argues that plucking just enough grain to satisfy immediate hunger does not break the Sabbath, because both King David and the temple priests did so without incurring God’s rebuke.
Moreover, true adherence to the Law of Moses should be motivated by compassion and mercy. God’s love of mercy (allowing hungry people to pick grain to eat) is higher than God’s desire for sacrifice (following Sabbath regulations), as had already been revealed in Micah 6:6-8. The gift of a day of rest each week is a promise from God that we do not have to work incessantly just to make ends meet. It is not a judgment against relieving someone’s hunger or need on the Sabbath.
The lack of compassion shown by the Pharisees reminds me of the words of Pope Francis:- ‘If our heart is closed, if our heart is made of stone, then the stones will end up in our hands and, then, we will be ready to throw them at someone’.
The Pharisees were quick to point out the traditional observances of the Sabbath according to the Law and failed to understand the teaching of Jesus that ‘the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath’. They were too preoccupied with rules, regulations and empty sacrificial offerings that they missed the meaning of the message of Jesus – the mercy and love of God. We can be so much be interested in what is wrong with people’s behaviours that we lose sight of their needs. We can focus on their sins and forget to love them. We should be careful never to allow laws should encourage discipline and right behaviour to become a burden and obstacles to human and spiritual well-being. Every law that does not have love has its foundation becomes an evil weapon. God wants to free us from my anxieties, fears, and burdens through the gift of His unconditional mercy and love. Can we extend to others the gift of mercy and love so generously shared with us? GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God have mercy on us, heal our country Nigeria, bless and protect us all through Christ Our Lord Amen. Good morning!
Fr. Karabari Paul
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