Daily Gospel Reflection for July 18, 2014



Today’s Gospel: Matthew 12:1-8

Do you ever find yourself shaking your head in disbelief at the Pharisees? For such learned men,they seemed pretty dense. Jesus and his disciples were hungry and they ate heads of grain in a field; somehow the Pharisees took offense at that and accused them of doing something unlawful on the Sabbath. Were Jesus and the disciples supposed to go hungry just because it was the Sabbath?

I admit that I am naturally repelled by legalism. It speaks of rigid adherence to things that oftentimes have lost their meaning. I am a child of pre-Vatican II, raised on the rules of the church. I never was good at following rules and found myself probing my faith to get to the deeper meaning. But even when we do that, we can still be hung up on the rules.

My husband is a deacon in the Eastern Catholic Church (Melkite). His primary duty is to assist his priest in the celebration of The Divine Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy is exquisite in its beauty and requires rigorous study of the rubrics (rules) to celebrate it properly. The learning curve was steep. His performance anxiety was high that first year but eventually the rubrics became a part of him. Along the way however, he picked up the habit of evaluating his performance and nitpicking at mistakes he had made.

It is then that I would gently remind him that a few mistakes on his part do not undo the beauty and mystery of the liturgy. No one in the congregation notices anyway!

This is what Jesus is reminding us of today: to look at the bigger picture. We can get so buried in the rules that we miss the point. The Pharisees were all about legalism while Jesus was about common sense and most of all, mercy. He and the disciples were hungry so they ate. He healed on the Sabbath because those who were sick were in need of healing.


The motive of the Pharisees was to be right. Jesus’ motive was to be merciful. What is our motive in practicing our faith?


Lord, help me to see my faith beyond rules and regulations. Teach me to make mercy my maingoal rather than being correct. Amen.

Copyright 2014 Susan Bailey


About Author

Susan Bailey is an writer, speaker and musician. She is the author of River of Grace Creative Passages Through Difficult Times, published by Ave Maria Press, and Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message, part of the Literary Portals to Prayer series published by ACTA Publications. Along with her own blogs Be As One and Louisa May Alcott is My Passion), Susan frequently contributes to CatholicMom.com and the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers. She has also contributed to Catholic.net and Catholic Online. Susan writes articles and a monthly column known as Be as One for the Diocese of Worcester newspaper, The Catholic Free Press. Bailey, who works as a marketing/advertising assistant for a local real estate firm, is an associate member of the Commission for Women of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, where previously she served as chair and secretary, helping to organize the biennial “Gather Us In” women’s conference, one of the first major Catholic women’s conferences in the country. As part of her duties she wrote the monthly column for The Catholic Free Press known as “Concerning Women” and appeared on CatholicTV’s “This is the Day” to promote the conference. A professional musician and graphic artist, Bailey released four CDs, performed on EWTN, CatholicTV and World Youth Day 2002, and worked as a cantor in her parish of St. Luke the Evangelist for fifteen years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education (with concentrations in US History and Music) from Bridgewater State University. She and her husband, Rich, have two grown children and live in North Grafton, Massachusetts. Susan invites you to join her email list where you will receive updates on exciting professional developments and speaking engagements. Email subscribers also receive special giveaways and previews of new projects. Susan loves a good conversation and looks forward to corresponding with you! Join here.


  1. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice…”

    Five words, so filled with meaning and so instructive for us. I love this gospel for it’s modern day instructions for my life!

    Thanks for leading us in prayer, Susan!

  2. I love this gospel reading and your reflection is beautiful. I too tend to be turned off by legalism and yet I fall into that myself from time time.
    I was struck by the last verse and it really made me think. Your question to ponder is perfect for me. I need to keep asking myself that question – What is my motive in practicing my faith? I so want it to be love and mercy. Not rules.
    Thank you!

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