July 19, 2013

The Gospel Today

Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Mt. 12: 1-8

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath.
His disciples were hungry
and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him,
“See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.”
He said to the them, “Have you not read what David did
when he and his companions were hungry,
how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering,
which neither he nor his companions
but only the priests could lawfully eat?
Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath
the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath
and are innocent?
I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.
If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
you would not have condemned these innocent men.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”

Reflection (Sem. Eldrick S. Peña)

I was a college teacher for 14 years prior to my entrance in the seminary.  In those 14 years, never did I not experience the contradiction that was expressed in today’s Gospel – that of keeping and observing the law or policies, on one hand and of being more merciful and compassionate on the other.   In most cases, I would decide to become more compassionate than to be righteous.

I tried to become more understanding of my students because I know that the youth of today are burdened with so many problems and it really breaks my heart every time a student comes to me and says, “I’m pregnant”,” I impregnated a woman”, “I am into drugs”, “I am depressed, I want to die”, and so on and so forth.

Absenteeism, most of the times, is a good indicator of a student’s emotional and psychological state.  Students with problems would usually be absent in class.  If I would be strict in implementing school policies, the student fails the course after s/he exceeds the allowable number of absences but because I am moved to compassion for the students, I would try to reach out to them and find out what is causing their absences through counselling before it gets late.

There is nothing wrong with being strict and in observing and following the law, but sometimes, our rigidity and stiffness in observing and following policies and rules dehumanize us and make us forget that we are dealing with a fellow human being with dignity and created in God’s image and likeness just like us.  This attitude of self-righteousness makes us no different from the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ time.  We tend to forget that rules and laws are made for the advancement and protection of humans and not for controlling or suppressing them.

You, who had been shown much mercy and compassion by no other than Christ himself, will you be more righteous or compassionate in dealing with your neighbor?

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