Moses and Aaron worked many wonders in the presence of Pharaoh. But the Lord made Pharaoh’s heart stubborn, and he did not let the sons of Israel leave his country.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt:
‘This month is to be the first of all the others for you, the first month of your year. Speak to the whole community of Israel and say, “On the tenth day of this month each man must take an animal from the flock, one for each family: one animal for each household. If the household is too small to eat the animal, a man must join with his neighbour, the nearest to his house, as the number of persons requires. You must take into account what each can eat in deciding the number for the animal. It must be an animal without blemish, a male one year old; you may take it from either sheep or goats. You must keep it till the fourteenth day of the month when the whole assembly of the community of Israel shall slaughter it between the two evenings. Some of the blood must then be taken and put on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses where it is eaten. That night, the flesh is to be eaten, roasted over the fire; it must be eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled, but roasted over the fire, head, feet and entrails. You must not leave any over till the morning: whatever is left till morning you are to burn. You shall eat it like this: with a girdle round your waist, sandals on your feet, a staff in your hand. You shall eat it hastily: it is a passover in honour of the Lord. That night, I will go through the land of Egypt and strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, man and beast alike, and I shall deal out punishment to all the gods of Egypt, I am the Lord! The blood shall serve to mark the houses that you live in. When I see the blood I will pass over you and you shall escape the destroying plague when I strike the land of Egypt. This day is to be a day of remembrance for you, and you must celebrate it as a feast in the Lord’s honour. For all generations you are to declare it a day of festival, for ever.”’
Jesus took a walk one sabbath day through the cornfields. His disciples were hungry and began to pick ears of corn and eat them. The Pharisees noticed it and said to him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing something that is forbidden on the sabbath.’ But he said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his followers were hungry – how he went into the house of God and how they ate the loaves of offering which neither he nor his followers were allowed to eat, but which were for the priests alone? Or again, have you not read in the Law that on the sabbath day the Temple priests break the sabbath without being blamed for it? Now here, I tell you, is something greater than the Temple. And if you had understood the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the blameless. For the Son of Man is master of the sabbath.’
What I want is mercy, not sacrifice.
There was once a story about how St Martin de Porres was reprimanded by his Superior for bringing an injured man into his monastery. This is because he had disobeyed the instruction given to not allow any stranger in, for fear of being infected by the bubonic plague, which was at its height at that point. His reply to the Superior is instructive for all of us:
“Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity.”
The above quotation can certainly direct us in our daily lives and show us the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel passage of today.
God desires us to lean towards His mercy for He loves us. There are certainly laws and regulations within the Catholic Church which many have issues with. Accusations that the Church’s Magisterium is unbending or inflexible may be levelled but we need to realise that these were formulated on the basis of love. Whenever there is a disagreement with these rules, we need to ask ourselves the reason for our response. We need to examine the reasons closely and understand if it is due to our emotions or past hurts that are driving us to behave in a certain manner. The Church is animated by God, the Holy Spirit, who guides Her everyday.
I believe that obedience which results from an act of charity and mercy is what God desires from us. It is not blind obedience which God desires from us but a sincere acknowledgement of our weaknesses and failings, which makes us conscious of our need for His mercy that will result in a genuine desire to know God.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Father, we pray for wisdom to discern the meaning of the events in our lives
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all Spiritual Directors