MT 12:1-8

Jesus went through the grainfields 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.”

Gospel citations come from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


Drew Reynolds '09, '11 M.Ed.

"His disciples were hungry."

It was the sabbath. Though hungry, the disciples were forbidden by law from harvesting grains. Jesus is presented with a decision: obey the law and go hungry, or pick grains and break the law. 

Over the past few weeks we've heard numerous stories of families and children fleeing violence and seeking asylum at the U.S. border, only to be met with family separation, detention, and the violation of due process. I remember one story in which a mother described her son's murder at the hands of a gang. Fearing her younger son was next, she fled to the U.S. only to be separated from him in a labyrinth of detention centers. 

Like the disciples choosing between nourishment and observance, this mother was given a choice: wait for her next son to be murdered, seek asylum through an unfamiliar and congested border, or possibly break the law and cross the border without documentation into the United States. In light of today's Gospel, we too are given a choice: condemn those who sometimes violate the law, or through mercy affirm that the dignity and value of human beings supersedes any law or policy.

Mercy is not a feeling of pity or sympathy for the other; rather, it compels us to action in order to change the situation as much as we can. Mercy is not negating the law, but a practice that orients us to the larger purpose of the law—to ensure human freedom and wellbeing. 

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Learn more about Catholic teaching on immigration here.

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Father Bob Loughery, CSC 

God of mercy, you alone know our deepest hunger and longing. Fill us with your grace and grant us your lasting peace. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


St. Apollinaris, famous in the early Church for your faithfulness, pray for us!