Mercy Not Sacrifice

Matthew 9: 9-13
Amos 8:4-6,9-12 / Ps 119

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.’
(Matthew 9:12-13)

Without love all acts of piety
Are self-serving schemes in disguise;
Not our sacrifice, but our mercy
Can justify us in God’s eyes.

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” He told him, and Matthew got up and followed Him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Him and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13)

Reflection

Sacrifice is more about self-discipline, but mercy is about love shown to others. Sacrifice without mercy is empty, but even without sacrifice, mercy wins points in heaven because it is by itself also a form of sacrifice. Mercy shown to the sick and helpless is sweeter to the Lord than sacrifice for one’s own fortification. Sacrifice comes from a firm will, but mercy springs from the tenderness of one’s heart.

We discovered the power of group intercessory prayers in the brotherhood when my brother-in-law contracted a severe illness (viral meningitis) in Atlanta, Georgia. Many of our members prayed with us for his healing, and for him to be able to come and stay with us in Davao for his complete recovery. We believe our concerted prayers in the brotherhood made it possible for him to make the long flight safely without incident, considering the risk high altitude posed for sufferers of this rare disease. He stayed with us for six months or so, and the slower pace of life in Davao truly helped him regain his strength and balance on the way to his recovery.

Little sacrifice is involved when we extend a favor like prayer for somebody in need. And none at all when we do it out of love. Thanks to the wonder of SMS, or text messaging, friends and relatives can now pray together even if they are far apart for someone in need of such intercessions. And with the number of people suffering from various ailments and problems, there is now a greater need for more merciful intercessors.

God’s mercy is like flowing water that seeks the lowest level. In His great love, He invites us to be like Him, to be merciful and compassionate to those who are down with illnesses, problems or are in distress. Say a prayer for someone you know who needs it most today.

May the mercy of God always dwell in our hearts, so that the sacrifices we endure in our life be more for the benefit of others than for ourselves, in imitation of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who showed us the real meaning of mercy and sacrifice.

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