Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  (Matthew 9:13)

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6)

“This passage originally denounced Israelites who were trying to cover up their grave sins with external acts of piety such as sacrifice. Since sacrifice was supposed to express covenant love and faithfulness, Hosea said that God desires “mercy,” not (empty) sacrifices. The Greek word for mercy here is eleos, which in the Septuagint often represents the Hebrew word hesed, meaning loyal, steadfast covenant love. Jesus uses this quotation from Hosea to challenge the Pharisees not to allow external practices such as their table fellowship regulations to replace the steadfast love that must be shown to God and all his people, including sinners and tax collectors who have fallen away (23:23). Embodying Israel’s mission to be light to the whole world (5:14), Jesus did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri, The Gospel of Matthew, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), page 134.


My Notes: Divine Mercy Sunday 2016. God is our Father, and mercy is not just the forgiveness of our sins, but “loyal, steadfast covenant love”. So loyal and steadfast need to describe how we love both God and our family, friends and neighbors.