15TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Psalter: Week 2 / (Green/White)
St. Lawrence of Brindisi, priest & doctor
Ps 116:12-13, 15 & 16bc, 17-18
I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.
1st Reading: Ex 11:10—12:14
Moses and Aaron had worked all these marvels in the presence of Pharaoh, but Yahweh had made Pharaoh obstinate and he would not let the people of Israel leave his country.
Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt and said, “This month is to be the beginning of all months, the first month of your year. Speak to the community of Israel and say to them: On the tenth day of this month let each family take a lamb, a lamb for each house. If the family is too small for a lamb, they must join with a neighbor, the nearest to the house, according to the number of persons and to what each one can eat. You will select a perfect lamb without blemish, a male born during the present year, taken from the sheep or goats. Then you will keep it until the fourteenth day of the month.
On that evening all the people will slaughter their lambs and take some of the blood to put on the doorposts and on top of the doorframes of the houses where you eat. That night you will eat the flesh roasted at the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat the meat lightly cooked or boiled in water but roasted entirely over the fire—the head, the legs and the inner parts. Do not leave any of it until the morning. If any is left till morning, burn it in the fire.
And this is how you will eat: with a belt round your waist, sandals on your feet and a staff in your hand. You shall eat hastily for it is a Passover in honor of Yahweh. On that night I shall go through Egypt and strike every firstborn in Egypt, men and animals; and I will even bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt, I, Yahweh! The blood on your houses will be the sign that you are there. I will see the blood and pass over you; and you will escape the mortal plague when I strike Egypt.
This is a day you are to remember and celebrate in honor of Yahweh. It is to be kept as a festival day for all generations forever.
Gospel: Mt 12:1-8
It happened that, Jesus was walking through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry; and they began to pick some heads of wheat, to crush and 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, though neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the law, how, on the Sabbath, the priests in the temple desecrate the Sabbath, 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.“
The Bible presents the Pharisees as staunch defenders of the Law (in this case, the Sabbath), and would not tolerate anyone violating its prescriptions or veer away from it. However, in the process they disregard a more superior commandment which is the law of charity. They have virtually reduced religion into an activity of keeping laws. By condemning the hungry disciples for picking heads of grain and eating them they have shown that for them, observing legal prescriptions was more important than showing love, compassion and mercy to the needy. We know that the Lord never intended this to be. “It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice“ says the Lord.
Moreover, the reaction of the Pharisees over the disciples’ supposed violation of Sabbath law tells us something about human nature. Their righteousness is not necessarily founded on their love for God and his commandments. It simply reveals that their service of God is tainted with selfishness and vainglory. Ever present in us is the propensity or inclination to be self-righteous and judgmental of others. We have the tendency to be critical of others, their behavior and their actions in order to make ourselves look better than them. At times we can even misuse or pervert the law if it will satisfy our selfish and crooked intentions.
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Biblical Texts are taken from Christian Community Bible, Catholic Pastoral Edition (57th Edition) The New English Translation for the ROMAN MISSAL
With permission from the EPISCOPAL COMMISION ON LITURGY of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
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