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Τετάρτη, 8 Αυγούστου 2018

Q: What did Jesus mean when He said, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice"?



A: Jesus utilizes this quotation from the Prophet Hosea (6:6) during a controversy He has with the Pharisees over Sabbath laws. Our Lord wanted to demonstrate how empty the Pharisees' blind adherence to the letter of the Law actually was and show that this same Law, along with the writings of the Prophets, were intended for something much deeper than mere ritualistic behavior.

The Pharisees could not comprehend Hosea's chastisement any more than they could rightly understand the higher purpose of the Law. In essence, Jesus accuses them of extreme hypocrisy: adherence to form while omitting the substance, feigning allegiance to the Lord while practicing idolatry in their hearts. In essence, the Pharisees tried to do the right thing, but without an iota of love in their hearts.

Keep in mind that the Hebrew word for mercy was "chesed," which is pregnant with meaning - as opposed to the narrowness and limitations of its translation since Old Testament times. Today we simply equate mercy with withholding punishment, yet back then it also denoted charity, compassion, loving-kindness, and forgiveness.

Christ intimated that the Pharisees were not pleasing God by their rituals and sacrifices because they held no real mercy or compassion for their fellow man. They remained highly critical and judgmental towards the failures of others and had no consideration for the weak, all the while thinking themselves holier than everyone else, which in God's eyes is a detestable trait.

Fr. John

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