"Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice.' " —Matthew 9:13
When God said He desired love and mercy rather than sacrifice, He was exaggerating to emphasize a point (see Hos 6:6; Mt 9:13). God mandated a very extensive sacrificial system in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, the Psalms, and several other books of the Bible. God's emphasis on sacrifice is so extreme that He even sent His Son to be sacrificed on the altar of the cross for our salvation. Jesus, God Himself, is both the High Priest Who sacrifices and the Sacrifice Himself.
Nonetheless, as much as the Lord emphasizes sacrifice, He puts even more emphasis on mercy. In fact, His extreme emphasis on sacrifice was expressed in the most extreme act of mercy, God's sacrificial death on the cross. Jesus insists that we have mercy on our Christian brothers and sisters who have grievances against us. Otherwise, we are not permitted to approach the altar of sacrifice (see Mt 5:23ff). Also, when we pray, including praying the sacrifice of the Mass, we will be forgiven to the extent that we have mercifully forgiven those who have sinned against us (Mt 6:12). Furthermore, if we take Communion at the sacrifice of the Mass while being in disunity, we risk sickness, weakness, or even death (see 1 Cor 11:30). Jesus is perfectly consistent and insistent on mercy expressed in forgiveness and unity. Otherwise, our participation in Jesus' sacrifice on Calvary is "harmful" (see 1 Cor 11:17). Live in Jesus' sacrifice with mercy.
Prayer: Father, send the Holy Spirit to teach me the meaning of mercy and sacrifice.
Promise: "Believe in Him Who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, the Jesus Who was handed over to death for our sins and raised up for our justification." —Rm 4:24-25
Praise: Praise Jesus, eternal High Priest, Lamb of Sacrifice, risen Lord!
Rescript: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 20, 2004
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