Reflection on the Daily Readings for 7/17/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture for Friday of 15th week. Exodus 11:10-12,14. Psalm
116:12-13,15-16, 17-18. Matthew 12:1-8. Lectionary # 393:
Wisdom is the highest of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and both Moses
and Jesus are Wisdom figures. Some scholars are developing a Sophia
(Wisdom) Christology for studying Jesus in the Gospels. He knew well the
book of Proverbs, the Song of Songs, and probably the Wisdom of Ben Sirach.
Wisdom is not an abstract gift; it is quite practical and should especially
be the domain of teachers, preachers, and spiritual advisors. Some people
have this gift in a remarkable way even in their youth, but most of us
obtain it through the rough and tough times as well as the easy and good
times in our life. It is nourished by experience and age. Of course,
there is no fool like an old fool as one of the priests used to say! The
Psalms are the daily prayers of millions of people and are dear to both
Christian and Jew. They are great examples of biblical wisdom enmeshed in
prayer forms that fit almost every occasion of our lives.
Jesus, for Matthew, is wisdom personified in today’s excerpt. He
interprets the law differently from the leaders from Jerusalem in the
incident which finds his disciples picking grains of wheat on the sabbath.
In the wisdom of Jesus we see that he is never out to deny the precepts of
the law but insists in his great proclamation of the Sermon on the Mount
that he is here to fulfill not to take anything away from the Torah’s laws
and commandments. Fasting is not done on the Sabbath neither is it done on
the Lord’s Day, Sunday. He realizes the hunger of the disciples reflects
an incident in David’s life when his men were permitted to eat the sacred
breads reserved for only the servants of the shrine or Temple. A wedding
is not a time for fasting and the disciples are enjoying the presence of
Jesus as the bridegroom. While he is with them there is no need to fast.
Moreover, the spirit of the law brings the gift of wisdom to help interpret
it correctly and that is what Jesus is doing, therefore, he can claim that
he, as the Son of Man can be lord over the Sabbath not to destroy but to
fulfill. The disciples were therefore not really breaking the law by
picking wheat on the Sabbath; it is a law of nature to eat when one is
really hungry or starving; this they did after long trips with Jesus.
God’s commandments and laws are reasonable and are down by those who
understand them with joy and freedom. Devout Jews do this every sabbath
and do not complain about performing the works of God.
Wisdom leads Jesus to also give another text to the religious leaders
that comes from the prophets as well as from the psalms: “It is mercy I
desire, and not sacrifice.” We have seen that Jesus always offers
compassion to those who are in misery or pain. In this way, Jesus is lord
of the sabbath. The incident leads us as Christians to think of the
nourishment we receive in the Eucharist each day. Sunday is especially the
day we give great honor and devotion to the Eucharist. Bread and wine are
the elements of the sacrament that through the mercy of God’s love and the
gift of Jesus as Wisdom that nourish us when we are spiritually hungry and
that happens every day of our lives if we are God-oriented persons. Yes,
the Lord desires mercy and not sacrifice especially on the Sabbath and on