Mt 9:9-13 Smiles and Mercy
The Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
While I was in Hawaii, I saw a man standing at the corner preaching Hell and the end of the world. Near to him was a little girl singing "Soul Sister". The man had a crowd of two listening to him. The little girl had a crowd of nearly a thousand listening to her. The difference did not go unnoticed to me. I was standing next to the little girl who was singing to me.
There is no mention in scripture of the Lord ever laughing. And there is hardly any mention of him ever smiling. Since we tend to write what we remember (and what we most remember is what we find most unique and shocking), this tells me that the Lord did an awful lot of laughing and smiling.
Scripture does not retell the obvious; it shares with us the unique and mysterious. For example, it does not remind us that the Lord breathed, that’s obvious. Rather, it reminds us of the time when the Lord stopped breathing. The Evangelists did not wish to share with us that people were dying to see the Lord. Instead, they recount to us those who were raised from the dead. We know, for instance, that the Apostles often traveled without food. They often point this out and in detail.
I suspect that the Lord did not speak often. Why? Because the Apostles recorded every single parable he said; every single encounter he had; and every single point he made. This is something we do not do easily, especially with those who lecture us. What is obvious is who often went missing. The Lord valued solitude.
I believe the Lord smiled and laughed very often; which means he cried very little. No wonder, the Apostles were shocked to see the Lord cry at the death of his close friend. No wonder why it was a memorable moment. The Lord’s laughter was seen by all, but not his crying. It must have gotten to the point that his smile and laughter was so common that it was taken for granted. His crying must have been shocking.
Many of us can remember the day our father cried. Not many of us can remember the day he laughed or smiled.
Mother Teresa laughed and smiled so much that we could hardly tell that she worked with the poorest of the poor. But when she did cry, it did not go unnoticed. In fact, it sent shockwaves throughout the faithful. Why? Because she didn’t do it often.
Holy people know how to smile and laugh. This is important. And the reason why they know how to smile and laugh is because they do it often. It becomes such a habit that it hardly gets noticed…like their habit! The Saints know how to laugh because they know how to love. And to love means to know how to sacrifice.
I desire mercy, not sacrifice. Doesn’t the Lord ask us to make sacrifices? But now he's telling us that he doesn’t want our sacrifices! I’m so confused!!! Which one is it???
To show mercy is to show love. To love requires sacrifice. It isn’t a question of either or, it is a question of which comes first. Love always comes first in everything we do. Mercy is required before an honest-to-God sacrifice can be made! There is no other way. If we follow the commandments out of fear of the Lord, then we will never convince a living soul to follow the Lord. But if we follow the commandments out of love for the Lord, then we will convince all the souls around us. How will they really know the difference? By the smile on your face!
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul…and my lips!