Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Exodus 11:10-12:14; Matthew 12:1-8)
Over the last few years the word weaponize has crept into English vocabulary. It means to use an issue to hurt politically one’s opponent. The fuss at the U.S.–Mexican border today has been weaponized by both political parties. Democrats and Republicans are using the plight of Central America immigrants to their political advantage. In today’s gospel Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for weaponizing the issue of sacrifice.
The Pharisees envy Jesus. He speaks with authority while they cite sources ad nauseum. Here the Pharisees chastise Jesus because his disciples have not kept the regular Sabbath observance. Ostensibly because they have had nothing to eat all day, they eat grain picked in the field. Jesus defends their action by showing that the law admits exceptions. More important than Sabbath ritual, he says, is the quality of mercy. God can judge whether his disciples are transgressing the law. People should think mercifully when they see others in apparent need.
We may ask ourselves about beggars on street corners. Should we give them money? Virtuous people often do, but social workers sometimes recommend otherwise. Stories of abuse exist as well. There remains the obligation to help the needy. Perhaps by a regular contribution to the local Gospel Mission is in order.