Friday, July 05, 2013

Mercy, Not Sacrifice

Mercy, Not Sacrifice

By Melanie Rigney

Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Then Isaac took Rebekah into his tent; he married her, and thus she became his wife. In his love for her, Isaac found solace after the death of his mother Sarah. (Genesis 24:67)
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. Who can tell the mighty deeds of the Lord, or proclaim all his praises? (Psalms 106:1-2)
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13)

Lord, this humble servant is full of gratitude that You sent Your Son to call the sinners.

A hot summer night at an out-of-the-way Italian restaurant. Good food. Good wine. A friend and I are catching up on our lives and what we’re reading. I mention I’ve come across something recently that resonated with me about being gentle with oneself while working on bad behaviors learned decades earlier.

“Like what?” she asks.

I breathe in. “Well, I’m impatient. I’m blunt. And I can be judgmental.”

She reaches her hands across the table. “I know all these things about you,” she says, no pity or protestation in her voice.” I still love you.”

Talk about a moment close to Christ. It might as well have been him speaking to me. In fact, maybe it was.

“Follow me,” Jesus said to Matthew the tax collector. He didn’t say, “Give up your profession, then follow me.” He didn’t say, “Get your heart and soul in order, then follow me.” He simply said, “Follow me.”

And as we come to terms with the profound truth that God wants us today, flawed as we are, perhaps it becomes easier to work on those less than attractive traits we all have… and to accept our friends as they work on theirs.

Spend time today observing someone you find difficult. Contemplate what it is about this person that his or her friends and family—and God—love. Pray for the wisdom to do the same.

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