Lenten Reflection 3-16-22

Lenten Reflection Day 14 - by Kim Wu

Matthew 9:10-13 And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.  When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

(Although the scripture here is very similar to yesterday’s scripture, I included it here because it is in this version that Jesus says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”)

The Pharisees were the religious insiders who were good at making personal sacrifices. They memorized scripture, they spent a great deal of time at the synagogues, and they knew all the laws and were intently focused on following them to the letter.  It became a source of pride for them.

We can fall into the same trap, patting ourselves on the back for attending worship services, for giving to our church, and for volunteering in a ministry.  We subconsciously tally up our personal sacrifices.

But Jesus is telling us to take our focus off our sacrifices, and instead focus on compassionate love for people.  We need to allow our hearts to get caught up in knowing our neighbors and meeting their needs as much as we are meeting our own.  “And the second commandment is this: love your neighbor as yourself.”

Loving God, if I boast that I love you, but disregard others and think nothing of it, I know I am a liar.  If I can’t love the people I can see, how can I love you, whom I cannot see?  Your Son has shown me that loving God includes loving people.  Fill my heart with love for others when I focus not on my sacrifices, but on yours.  Amen. (Based on 1 John 4:20-21, MSG)

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