15th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Is 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8
When Hezekiah was mortally ill, the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him: “Thus says the LORD: Put your house in order, for you are about to die; you shall not recover.” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD: “O LORD, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly I conducted myself in your presence, doing what was pleasing to you!” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: “Go, tell Hezekiah: Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you: in three days you shall go up to the LORD’s temple; I will add fifteen years to your life. I will rescue you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; I will be a shield to this city.” Isaiah then ordered a poultice of figs to be taken and applied to the boil, that he might recover. Then Hezekiah asked, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the temple of the LORD?” Isaiah answered: “This will be the sign for you from the LORD that he will do what he has promised: See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz go back the ten steps it has advanced.” So the sun came back the ten steps it had advanced.
Gospel: 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.”
LIVING IN AN UPRIGHT LIFE: The Lord heard the prayers of Hezekiah and spared his life. In the Gospel, Jesus said “I desire mercy and not sacrifice,” (Hosea 6: 6). He had condemned the Jews for attempting to excuse idolatry and their oppression of the poor by offering the prescribed animal sacrifices. The religious leaders’ blindness astounded Jesus. The mission of Jesus was to reveal the love of God and bring to us the redemption. God’s mercy and love continues to manifest to us through everything. St. Bonaventure whose memory we recall today has this to say, “Christ has something in common with all creatures. With the stone he shares existence, with the plants he shares life, with the animals he shares sensation, with the angels he shares intelligence. Thus, all things are transformed in Christ, since in the fullness of his nature, he embraces some part of every creature”.
Prayer: Lord help me to see your marvelous works in all of creation.
MERCY NOT SACRIFICES: When King Hezekiah wept bitterly, his prayer was heard, “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears.” How often do we turn to the Lord in earnest, interceding for favours for the world, Church and ourselves? Though Sabbath observance is important, genuine human need takes precedence over the law. If David could act this way (eating the bread of offering in dire need which only the priests could lawfully eat), Jesus, the son of David, is more entitled to allow his disciples to pluck the grain and eat when they are hungry. Jesus affirms himself to be the Messiah who has authority to override the Sabbath ban. For Jesus, the new Moses, the lawgiver, what is important is the law of love over the legal prescriptions and rituals. As Jesus defends his disciples, he is sure to stand by us when we bend the laws in favour of people in their sufferings and miseries. God wants mercy, not sacrifices. Love is the measure of justification.
THE COVERING OF HIS BLOOD: God laid down the Passover rites from its preparation to the materials to be prepared and how the meal is to be consumed. They are to mark their posts with the blood of the lamb so that when He sees the blood, He will pass over you and their first-born sons will be saved. It is the blood of the Passover lamb that sets apart the people of God. In the Gospel Jesus shows the Pharisees from the Old Testament that the law was broken even then. He shows that the law was made for man and not man for the law. The most important thing is our faith in Him so that His blood can cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.