21 July 2006. Friday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 38. 1-6.21-22. 7-8; Psalm is Isaiah 38, 10-12.16; Matthew 12, 1-8
The readings today affirm one basic truth about God’s priority. Over and above any law, mercy stands at its highest. In the first reading, we hear about Hezekiah’s recovery from his sickness. Out of God’s compassion, Hezekiah was cured: God has heard his prayers and his tears. In the Gospel today, Jesus reiterated that God desires mercy and not sacrifice. The Sabbath is a time of worship in which believers sacrifice animals as atonement for their sins or as peace offerings. Jesus tells the Pharisees that the Sabbath is best kept by practicing mercy and compassion, in imitation of God’s saving work of love.
Let me tell a story: Banana Fritters
Nine-year-old Pepe decided one Sunday morning to make banana fritters for his parents. He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair to the counter, opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy rice flour canister, spilling it on the floor. He scooped some of the flour into the bowl with his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and added some sugar, leaving a floury trail on the floor which by now had a few tracks left by his puppy.
Pepe was covered with flour and getting frustrated. He wanted this to be something very good for Nanay and Tatay, but it was getting very bad. He didn’t know what to do next, whether to put it all into the stove, (and he didn’t know how the stove worked)! Suddenly he saw his puppy licking from the bowl of mix and reached to push her away, knocking the eggs, bananas and oil to the floor. Frantically he tried to clean up this monumental mess but slipped on the eggs, bananas and oil, getting his t-shirt dirty.
And just then he saw Tatay standing at the door. Big crocodile tears welled up in Pepe’s eyes. All he wanted to do was something good, but he’d made a terrible mess. He was sure a scolding was coming, maybe even a spanking. But his father just watched him. Then, walking through the mess, he picked up his crying son, hugged him and loved him, getting his own shirt dirty in the process.
This is how God deals with our human weaknesses and mistakes. We insult a friend or we can’t stand our officemates or our health goes bad or our relationships are on the rocks or our desire to pray is marred by too many distractions. We try to do everything right, but all the methods we do becomes a mess. Often, we stand before God in tears because we feel helpless and we believe we have tried everything. This is the time when God picks us up, loves us and forgives us, even though some of our mess gets all over Him. But just because we might mess up, we can’t stop trying to make ‘banana fritters’ for God or for others. Sooner it is in our trying that we will finally get it right. Often, we forget that the process of growing entails a lot of mistakes. If a father understands the process of growth, how much more will our Father in heaven do as much.