Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mercy, Not Sacrifice

At that time Jesus went through the cornfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.’ He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests. Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”, you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.’

He left that place and entered their synagogue; a man was there with a withered hand, and they asked him, ‘Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?’ so that they might accuse him. He said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.’ Then he said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and it was restored, as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

Matthew 12:1-14

Mercy, Not Sacrifice

Showing mercy calls at our hearts
slowing down to see the need
listening to the cries in the night
seeing poverty on busy streets.

We are trained to avoid the weak
and step around the street folks
clutching bags and coffees tight
we scurry on our important ways.

The need and huger surround us
we are cossetted and closed in
secure in our wealth and prosperity
showing no mercy on mean streets.

When we are not vulnerable we forget
we overlooked the ache and are deaf
to the children who have lost their way
we exercise our right to turn away.

God calls us to turn and listen
to feel the cries of the poor
to let legality and rules go
so that we can respond to the need.

God stands in the lonely places
huddles on the street corner
hunkers down on the subway platforms
and waits on the docks on clod nights.

Let us seek God in our discomfort
in the places we left behind
in the people we so often shunned
and in mercy let us live.

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