The need to show mercy
Friday, July 06, 2018
13th Week in Ordinary Time
Am 8:4-6, 9-12
Gospel: Matthew 9:9-13
As Jesus moved on from there, he saw a man named Matthew at his seat in the custom-house, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And Matthew got up and followed him. Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and other sinners joined Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, “Why is it that your master eats with those sinners and tax collectors?”
When Jesus heard this he said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and find out what this means: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
A story is told of two little kid brothers, Harry and James. Harry hits James with a stick while playing after dinner. They’re still in fighting mood as mother prepares them for bed. Mother says, “Now, James, before you go to bed you are going to have to forgive your brother.” James thinks for a moment, and then he replies, “Well, OK, I’ll forgive him tonight, but if I don’t die before I wake up, he’d better look out in the morning”. (Michael Hodgin).
Showing mercy is hard to do for young and old alike. But surely showing mercy is a Godly act. The story of Matthew in today’s Gospel reading tells us so. Matthew was a tax collector. Tax collectors paid to the Romans a fixed sum for the right to collect customs duties within their districts. Since whatever they could collect above this amount was already theirs, the abuse of extortion was widespread among them. For this they were regarded as sinners and outcasts of society. Dining with them could make someone ritually impure. This notwithstanding, Jesus dined with one of them named Matthew. Jesus justified the act with this quote from the prophet Hosea: “It is mercy I want, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6).
For Jesus, mercy is more important than ritual sacrifices. It follows that showing mercy is priority over ritual purity. As such mercy could be extended even to the worst of sinners. Jesus did it towards the end when he promised paradise to a convicted thief. We always find reasons not to show mercy, don’t we? George Eliot lamented in Adam Bede: “We hand folks over to God’s mercy, and show none ourselves”. But the order to be merciful stands. God even commands us to forgive seventy times seven times a day. All of us are called to show mercy because whether young or old we too need mercy. The mercy we show to others may be the mercy we need so badly from God for ourselves. –(Atty.) Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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