Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lent '09 - Day 36: Homework from Jesus

As you may be aware, Jesus got a lot of flack for spending time with drunks, cheats, and prostitutes - the sinners or "bad" people. On being asked about this, he gives a homework assignment: "Go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice'" (Matthew 9:13). The passage for them to study comes from their Jewish Scriptures in the book of Hosea. I assume the religious-elite that Jesus was addressing were familiar with the text. In essence then, he's telling them, "Go read your Bible, again".

Unfortunately, they didn't take Jesus' homework assignment seriously, as they failed another encounter. This time, the encounter regarded doing "work" on the Sabbath. In response to the Pharisees critiquing the disciples for picking wheat, Jesus says, "If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent" (Matthew 12:7:).

I'm thinking we also should accept Jesus' homework assignment and actually do it so we don't make similar mistakes. An important aspect about mercy is that involves other people. It hooks into, "love your neighbor as yourself." If you're sacrifice focused, you can be caught up in your own piety, and not being love in the world. Mercy helps put the focus off oneself, which we know is critical for God's kingdom. There's a lot I'm hoping to get done today, but in light of God desiring mercy, I know I need to spend time talking through the past of an amigo here. How about you?

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