Memory of Jesus crucified

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 12, 1-8

At that time Jesus went through the cornfields one Sabbath day. 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 they ate the loaves of the offering although neither he nor his followers were permitted to eat them, but only the priests?

Or again, have you not read in the Law that on the Sabbath day the Temple priests break the Sabbath without committing any fault?

Now here, I tell you, is something greater than the Temple.

And if you had understood the meaning of the words: Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the blameless.

For the Son of man is master of the Sabbath.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Pharisees waste no occasion to think ill of Jesus (and of his disciples), and to accuse him. We can identify Pharisaism with the attitude of those who seek to save themselves by accusing others, even taking cover behind some rule. It is a subtle way of being evil. The Pharisees rebuke Jesus because he allows the disciples to pluck grains as they make their way on the Sabbath day. But he responds with two examples which show their narrow-mindedness and blindness. And he especially underlines, with Hosea’s words, God’s largeness of heart: "I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice" (Hos 6:6). The Lord does not desire the cold and external observance of norms, but the heart of the believer. It is not about disdaining norms. Nevertheless, above all norms there’s compassion, which is a gift to be asked of God, since it does not come from our character or our traits, but from God. In truth that dimension was always presented by biblical revelation. In some Jewish commentaries, for example, one reads: "The Sabbath has been given to you, not you to the Sabbath." And some commentators explain that the rabbis knew that an exaggerated religiosity could imperil the fulfilment of the essence of the law: "Nothing is more important, according to the Torah, than saving a human life ... Even when there is only the slightest possibility that a life is at risk, one can disregard every prohibition of the law." Jesus exalts the spirit of the law which leads one to place God and humans at the centre of the law. In short, he gives it its genuine interpretation. The Sabbath shows God’s loving presence in human life. The Lord Jesus is the loving face of God. This is why he repeats that he wants mercy and not sacrifice.