First Reading: Exodus 11:10-12:14
Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh; and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,”This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they shall take every man a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household; and if the household is too small for a lamb, then a man and his neighbor next to his house shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old; you shall take it from the sheep or from the goats; and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening. Then they shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled with water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning, anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 116:12-13, 15-18
What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. O LORD, I am thy servant; I am thy servant, the son of thy handmaid. Thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
Gospel: Matthew 12:1-8
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But 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 was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law how on the sabbath the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And 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.”
I’ve tried to write this devotional multiple times. I think I’ve finished three entirely different drafts.
As I wrote and rewrote this devotional, I was getting frustrated that it wasn’t “good enough.” I don’t hold myself to stupidly high standards in my life. My kids have screen time; my floors don’t get vacuumed enough; I routinely blow my budget.
But when I write, I have standards. I don’t cut myself any slack: I’m supposed to be good at writing. As I tried to write this journal, I realized I was just gonna have to be happy with good enough. I was gonna have to show myself some mercy.
And a light went on: I was being my own Pharisee.
The Pharisees were so wrapped up in following God’s laws that they didn’t recognize God’s son. These were “holy men” who spurned the incarnation of holiness. How does this happen? If ANYONE recognized Jesus for who He was, shouldn’t it have been the keepers of the faith? Why were they blind precisely where they should see?
I desire mercy not sacrifice.
Writing is something I’m SUPPOSED to be good at. I will suffer through rewrite after rewrite and sacrifice sentence after sentence before I show myself any mercy in this place.
In this case my lack of mercy was keeping me from being a tool in God’s hands.
I desire mercy not sacrifice.
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Look at your life. Look specifically at your strengths. Where are your gifts? Are you using those gifts for God’s glory or have you crippled yourself because your expectations are too high? The evil one wants to weaken you where you are strong. And it’s not too hard, because often where you are strong, you have no mercy for yourself.
Kate Rhodes is the wife of a lanky carpenter and mother to two littles. She used to teach English, but then she joined the ranks of SAHMs. You can find out more about her here.