Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time, July 2
May We Always Respond with an Open Heart and a Willing Soul to Embrace All that Our Lord Asks from Each and Every One of Us, for It Is in This Way that We Truly Give Him the Praise and Glory Which Rightfully Belongs to Him.
Our Lord explains to all who were listening in today’s Gospel – to those whose hearts were opened, but most especially to those whose hearts were closed and calloused, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
It was some years ago when I knew of a young man who had alienated himself from his father. He had discussed with me how he had grown to resent, even hate the thought of being near his father.
While remembering the story which he had related to me, I recalled that much of his bitterness was due to his aversion, his unwillingness to be open to the possibility of any kind of reconciliation, even an unwillingness to take that first step towards finding some sense of an inner peace, which this young man so deeply needed – especially since this bitterness, which he was carrying within himself, was also affecting his own relationships with his wife and his children.
This anger which he was bearing was even affecting his faith. If he could not find a way to reconcile himself to his own earthly father, how could he be open to the idea of our Heavenly Father’s Love, and the act of Reconciliation for which the Divine Son offered Himself for each one of us?
His heart was so clouded that I could not help but feel sorry for him. Being able to love freely and selflessly, as well as embracing all the Christian virtues which you and I are taught did not come easy for him And yet, it is these very virtues – love, compassion and mercy – which we find weaving its way throughout today’s Readings.
Abraham, in a father’s love for his son, and in his great love and faith in his God, sought a fitting daughter for Isaac. And, if we were to read the rest of this story in the Book of Genesis, we would find that Rebecca, also out of love, faith and trust in her God, said “yes” and became Isaac’s wife.
Their journey together throughout life, like Abraham’s and Sarah’s, in many ways may be no different than ours if our hearts are open to the will of God for us. For the story surrounding the joining of Isaac and Rebecca is one of faith, love and an enduring trust in the God of their fathers, and a deep desire to be open to and accepting of all that God was asking of them.
And we see this same desire on the part of Matthew in today’s Gospel, whereby he left his position of responsibility as a tax collector and followed Jesus to become one of the original Twelve Apostles.
Matthew’s desire for something more than what the secular world offered him was no different than the feelings which God’s faithful children have today. Jesus reached out to him as He reaches out to us – with compassion, love, mercy and understanding. And yet, how many in today’s society turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to those who are in most need, whether their need is spiritual, emotional or physical?
Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” He was not only responding to the closed-heartedness of the Pharisees, He was also responding to those in our own society who are unwilling to accept, even unwilling to understand, the concept of loving mercy and compassion.
It is only when we live our life with Christ that we are then able to learn to live God’s Precepts of justice – compassion, love, mercy and understanding – a recognition of the dignity and sanctity due to each person, from the very moment of conception to natural death.
Christ tells us today, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.” And many times throughout the Gospels, He gives us the example of what it means to reach out to those less fortunate – the sick, the poor, the discouraged, and those who are hungry for more than just physical nourishment.
And throughout the ages, there have always been those who are less fortunate. Even today, there are many in the various cultures throughout the world who are marginalized by a society which embraces greed and selfishness before love and charity, by a society which embraces the god of the marketplace, a god with a small “g” – rather than the God of Love and Mercy whom you and I know, worship and adore.
Christ gave us this example of justice when He reached out and embraced those who were in most need, whether it be healing the sick or sitting with sinners, as we read today. For in His call to Matthew to follow Him, our Lord was inviting a flawed person, one who was known to be a sinner, one who was known to take advantage of the poor and who was thought to be deceitful in business.
Yet, we begin to discern that, in God’s invitation to Matthew, God does not see as man sees. Our Lord saw into the heart of this tax collector, into his very soul, and saw the possibilities which no one else saw. And Matthew opened his heart to the Merciful Love of God, and it is this same Matthew who ended up becoming an Apostle and Evangelist.
It is with this same calling that He reaches out to each of us, to both you and me. If we are to call ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ, if we are to truly give witness to our Christian faith, can we do no less than to hear His holy word and follow His call – and truly live it in our lives?
Just as Abraham loved God and proved his love by caring for his brethren, we, too, are called to do the same.
We are each called to live the example set for us by Jesus Christ – an example of loving compassion for all those who are less fortunate, an example of mercy and forgiveness for those who are struggling to find their way in a world beset by so many secular and moral seductions.
It has been many years now since I last talked to this young man about whom I was referring earlier. I can only pray that he has taken that first step in healing the division between himself and his father
Life for each of us is a journey with its many ups and downs, with its many peaks and valleys. To truly live our faith, to find peace on this side of the eternal, in a world in which there is so much sadness, should not be encumbered with emotions of hate and anger. Rather, each and every one of us should open our hearts and live the example of love, mercy and compassion which Jesus has given us.
May we always respond with an open heart and a willing soul to embrace all that our Lord asks from us, for it is in this way that we truly give Him the praise and glory which rightfully belongs to Him!
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)
- “For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)
- “Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: ‘You shall indeed hear but not understand you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them.’” (Matthew 13:14-15)
- “Blessed those who do what is right, whose deeds are always just.” (Psalm 106:3)
- “But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:16-17)
- “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? …So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead…Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.” (James 2:14, 17, 18b)
- “But you are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises’ of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
Prayer for the Day
“Lord Jesus, our Savior,Saint Augustine of Hippo
let us now come to You.
“Our hearts are cold;
Lord, warm them with Your Selfless Love.
Our hearts are sinful;
cleanse them with Your Precious Blood.
“Our hearts are weak;
strengthen them with Your Joyous Spirit.
Our hearts are empty;
fill them with Your Divine Presence.
“Lord Jesus, our hearts are Yours;
possess them always and only for Yourself.”