In Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Thomas Merton describes an incident where during a sermon on desegregation, a parishioner abruptly got up to leave, shouting to the priest “if I miss Mass today, it’s your fault!” This is a drastic example of the theme in today’s Gospel: that it’s easy to get so caught up in attachments or rules that we can forget what’s really important.

Jesus knows all about Sabbath regulations, but he also knows his friends are hungry. So he chooses to help the disciples and also use that opportunity to teach the Pharisees. On some days we’re the confused disciples and on others we’re the rigid Pharisees. Yet despite our imperfections, Jesus still lovingly guides us all. This love for us is not because of Mass attendance (or any other religious observance), but because he loved us before we loved him.

A Question:  Can I let go of some burden, rule, or attachment I’m holding on to that Jesus has not asked of me?

—Henoch Derbew, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the US Northeast province, is currrently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.