Go and learn the meaning of these words; I desire mercy, not sacrifice. Matthew 9:13
We Catholics like to focus on sacrificing. Our vocabulary is filled with words like sacrificial love, penance, give up, let go, get rid of, look within, sin, death, and the cross. A good and noble concept, sacrifice is not the thing that will propel us to health or heaven. It tends to keep us looking at ugliness without and within that needs to be routed out and eradicated. It interprets loss, death, and detachment as a stripping away of self almost as if a person is being scraped away with a knife. Focus too much on these kinds of things and life can become quite serious, sad, and sometimes downright morose.
Jesus says He desires mercy for a reason. The words of mercy are give, love, compassion, embrace, care, and thoughtfulness. Mercy knows there is ugliness but chooses to find the scrap of good in the ugliness and bring it forth. With mercy we aren’t stripped of self in such a way as to burn, bleed, and feel raw. The old skin falls off without agony because the focus is not on our selves. Think of how many times you didn’t feel a paper cut until you looked at your finger and saw blood.
Having a cornerstone of mercy makes life lighter, colorful, and rich. It finds the Kingdom of Heaven’s beginnings here and participates in giving birth to it. That is what brings us health and the eventual fullness of the Kingdom of God in heaven.
I desire mercy, not sacrifice. It’s worth a ton of reflection.
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