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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Exod 11:10-12.14): Although Moses and Aaron performed various wonders in Pharaoh's presence, the Lord made Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not let the children of Israel leave his land. The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, «This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it. The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.

»They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. It shall not be eaten raw or boiled, but roasted whole, with its head and shanks and inner organs. None of it must be kept beyond the next morning; whatever is left over in the morning shall be burned up. This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the Lord. For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every first born of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt —I, the Lord! But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you. This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord, as a perpetual institution».
Responsorial Psalm: 115
R/. I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.
How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me? The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the Lord.

Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones. I am your servant, the son of your handmaid; you have loosed my bonds.

To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the Lord. My vows to the Lord I will pay in the presence of all his people.
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): 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.”

«I desire mercy, not sacrifice»

Fr. Josep RIBOT i Margarit (Tarragona, Spain)

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

“See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the Sabbath.” (Mt 12:2). And the unbelievable thing is they sincerely meant it. How can anyone ever forbid doing a good deed? There is something that reminds us that 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 from killing the true spirit of God's Law; for charity is nothing but a continuous invitation to loving, to give ourselves to others.

“I desire mercy, 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 to those 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 judge 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.

Let us beg the 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 fruitful intention.