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Liturgical day: Friday 15th 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.
Verscicle 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.