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Mercy not Sacrifice

by Jul 1, 2022Friar Reflection

In today’s Gospel Jesus calls us to go and study the Scripture: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’”  Jesus is asking us to read, to study, and to pray over these words from the Old Testament prophet Hosea (Hosea 6:6).  Hosea, like the prophet Amos in today’s first reading, preached to the northern kingdom of Israel.  Hosea was a native of this northern kingdom while Amos actually came from the southern kingdom of Judah.  Both attacked the rulers and aristocracy of the wealthy kingdom of Israel for their social injustice: “Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land.” (Amos 8:4).  These people cannot wait for Sabbaths and holy days to be over so that they can continue their injustice: “We will buy the lowly man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!” (Amos 8:6).  They have turned a deaf ear to the cry of the poor.  Both Amos and Hosea declare that showing mercy, justice, and compassion to the poor is more important than sacrifice.  In other words, love of God and love of neighbor must always be linked together.  Jesus follows their teaching and proclaims that worship of God (sacrifice) is worthless if we do not feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and clothed the naked (Matthew 25:31-46).  Social justice is and always has been a constitutive part of the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Jesus calls us today to learn the meaning of the words of Hosea: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”  So let us pray that the Spirit may guide us to understand and practice this teaching of Hosea, Amos, and Jesus:

“Open our eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters; inspire in us words and actions to comfort those who labor and are burdened. Make us serve them truly, after the example of Christ and at his command. And may your Church stand as a living witness to truth and freedom, to peace and justice, that all people may be raised up to a new hope.” (Eucharistic Prayer for Various Needs IV, “Jesus, Who Went About Doing Good”).