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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Friday 15th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Isa 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.
Responsorial Psalm: Is 38
R/. You saved my life, o Lord; I shall not die.
Once I said, «In the noontime of life I must depart! To the gates of the nether world I shall be consigned for the rest of my years».

I said, «I shall see the Lord no more in the land of the living. No longer shall I behold my fellow men among those who dwell in the world».

My dwelling, like a shepherd's tent, is struck down and borne away from me; you have folded up my life, like a weaver who severs the last thread.

Those live whom the Lord protects; yours is the life of my spirit. You have given me health and life.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 10:27): Alleluia. My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 12,1-8): It happened that Jesus walked through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and began to pick some heads of wheat and crush them to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, «Look at your disciples; they are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!». Jesus answered, «Have you not read what David did when he and his men were hungry? He went into the house of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, although neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the Temple break the Sabbath rest, yet they are not guilty? I tell you, there is greater than the Temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words: ‘It is mercy I want, not sacrifice’, you would not have condemned the innocent. Besides the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath».

«It is mercy I want, not sacrifice»

Fr. Josep RIBOT i Margarit (Tarragona, Spain)

Today, the Lord is closing in the wheat fields of our lives, to pick the fruits of sanctity. Will He find charity, love of God and fellow man? Will Jesus, that corrects the rabbis' meticulous casuistry making the Sabbath rest law totally unbearable, have to remind us that He is only interested in our heart, in our capacity to love?

«Look at your disciples; they are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!» (Mt 12:2). And the unbelievable thing is they sincerely meant it. How can anyone forbid doing always a good deed? There is something reminding us no reason could exist excusing us from not helping others. True charity respects the demands for justice, by avoiding our falling into arbitrariness or whim, while preventing harshness to kill the true spirit of God's Law; for charity is nothing but a continuous invitation to loving, to give ourselves to others.

«It is mercy I want, not sacrifice» (Mt 12:7). Let us repeat it many times to engrave it on our heart: God, who is rich in mercy, wants us to be merciful. «How close God is of he who confess his mercy! Yes; God is not far from those contrite at heart» (St. Augustine). And how far away from God are we when we let our heart turn into hard stone!

Jesus Christ accused the Pharisees of condemning the innocent. That is a serious accusation. But what about us? Are we seriously interested in other people's problems? Do we consider them with affection and sympathy, as if we were judging a friend or a brother? Let us try not to lose our way, after all.

We beg you, O Mother of God, to make us merciful and to show us how to forgive. Let us be benevolent and kind. And if we discover in our life some details that do not fit at the heart of this disposition, now is a good time to rectify them, by formulating some effective purpose.

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