It is a fact that we are highly religious. We are always with our bible, rosary, always going to church etc.
It is also a fact that the rate of hatred, wickedness, evil, jealousy, and crimes are increasing despite these.
We fill adoration grounds, liturgical services, prayer ministries to pray and in the quest to appear spiritual or seek for deliverance, liberation, upliftment, anointing power of God. The problem here is that we are also the same people who fight and hate ourselves.
However, every day the number of evil keeps increasing despite the number of churches we have in our midst. So, we are missing the mark. There is something that Jesus desires the most. It is not necessarily how holy we appear to be. It is not how many times we quote from the bible. There is something that Jesus desires the most from us.
In the Gospel.
In the gospel today, the Pharisees accuse Jesus of allowing His disciples to pluck grains on the Sabbath day. For the Pharisees, this is against the Sabbath regulation.
In essence, the Pharisees are more interested in keeping the law. Their interest is not in saving lives. They do not care if they overburden the people with strict laws or not. What they want is that people must keep to the law.
So, the Pharisees do not care if the people benefit from it or not. They do not care about the salvation of souls. Their sole interest is in keeping the law. This is the reason, the Pharisees even see the act of plucking grain on the sabbath day to satisfy hunger as against the sabbath regulation.
For Jesus, plucking grain to satisfy immediate hunger is not against the Sabbath regulations. Hence, He pointed to King David and the temple priests who did the same without incurring the anger of God (Matthew. 12:3-5). And today, Jesus who is greater than the temple is here. In essence, He is the One we are to serve, not sabbath. What He desires is what we shall do.
Therefore, what Jesus is saying is that we should not keep the sabbath laws for the sake of keeping them. We shall keep the sabbath law for the sake of what it is meant for: salvation of souls. So, as we keep the sabbath, do not forget that the souls around you need salvation. Be the light that others see.
Therefore for Jesus, saving lives should go beyond keeping the law. The law serves to save souls and not to put them in bondage.
Therefore salvation of souls and saving lives should be the watchword of everyone. If we do this, the rate of evil in the land will vanish into the thin air.
Today, we try to keep the law as the Pharisees do, but at the same time, we wish the other person failure, suffering and even death. Yet we are Christians. To save the other person is what Jesus desires. Humanity should come first. We make ourselves liars when we say we love God but hate our brother (1 John 4:20).
Mercy And Compassion Should be the Motivators.
What Jesus is saying is that true adherence to the Law of Moses should be motivated by compassion and mercy (Matthew. 12:6). He tells them that the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath, and Lordship indicates that Jesus has the right, power, and authority over the Sabbath and not the Sabbath over Jesus.
Therefore, Jesus has authority over the Sabbath, and not the other way round. The Sabbath is to bring people close to Him and nourish them with the word.
What Jesus desires the Most.
So, what Jesus desires the most is saving lives. This goes with mercy, love and forgiveness. We keep to them as we try to fulfil our religious responsibilities. It is not calling Lord Lord nor how much we appear to be religious but how loving, merciful and forgiving we are. Therefore, to keep righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. ( Proverbs 21:3). This is what Jesus desires the most.
So, God’s love and mercy which He shows in allowing hungry people to pick grain to eat is higher than the desire for sacrifice, in following only Sabbath regulations.
Jesus desires the first; mercy, love, saving lives, forgiveness, peace etc but the Pharisees desire the second; only keeping the Sabbath regulation, without caring whether you die or live.
An example is when a Christian does not miss his/her religious obligations but hardly helps the other person. He prays every day but behind his/her back is that widow or orphan suffering and dying in hunger. Jesus desires that we live out our faith. It is not how much we shout in prayers nor speak in tongues.
The Love of neighbour which Jesus shows. The love shown in the example of the good Samaritan is what gladdens the heart of God more than the attitude of the Levi and the priest in the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.
Secondly, God cherishes how broken we are at the heart and repent from our sinful ways.
It is not how much we dance and pray and yet go back the way we are, full of evil, wickedness and jealousy. What Jesus desires the most is a contrite heart; a heart that truly loves and helps.
David says, “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. ( Psalms 51:17). May God help us.
May God bless you and sanctify us from the sins of our hearts and give us the grace to love one another. Amen