In today’s gospel we are called to consider what is really important in our lives. Jesus asks the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath . . . to save life rather than to destroy it?” I respond immediately, “of course.” In fact just two verses before this morning’s gospel, Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” It’s so easy, isn’t it?

But then I look at my own life and see many instances when I hold to what seems like a very important principle or rule that justifies far less than reaching out with love to those people God puts in my life and to those on the margins. I often remain silent, if not outright defiant, in the face of the question Jesus poses, just as the Pharisees did. Isn’t this the same question Pope Francis has wonderfully posed to us and to the world in so many ways this past year?

I am encouraged though, because the gospel goes on to say Jesus “grieved at their hardness of heart.” Jesus’ invitation to love and to be loved is always present in my life, even at my worst moments. God’s grace enables me to not only say, but to live my life, answering “of course!”

—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits