Jesus said, " Go and learn the meaning of the words,'I Desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice. '" I think he was addressing everyone

Jesus actually said these words twice, in Matthew 9:13 and again Matthew 12:7. " If you knew what this meant,I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent man."(12:7).
CATHOLOCISM is full of examples of sacrifice. Always touted as virtuous and righteous. Is it possible God does not dislike Sacrifice, (double negative, sorry) but our sacrifice is thought of as not wanted?
In addressing Song of Songs, Saint Theresa Avila said this:
" If the Cross is loved, it is easy to bear." I think it touches on at least part of what Jesus instructs we learn.
The unloved Cross is a burden. A sacrifice is a burden as well. By identifying sacrifice, we are implying doing something that we prefer not to. In Christianity we " sacrifice" for all kinds of reasons. Fasting! We rather eat. It describes a deprivation. Helping people can also involve sacrifice. We give time, money, effort, we would OTHERWIZE spend elsewhere.
Then there is the Hebrew notion. A burnt offering for example. Here, we expend effort to offer something to God. Usually as petition or resembling a scapegoat.
Looking at the examples of sacrifice, yes, we do for another or " for God", but that is secondary, almost incidental at times. I am reminded of Jesus practice of visiting and dining with sinners. Jesus did not consider it a " duty dinner" with unclean. Jesus offered mercy and friendship. Perhaps engaging in mercy, is why the priests did not understand Jesus eating with the unclean. When you consider engaging in a sacrifice, at that point, your mindset is transactional and selfish. With a sacrifice, you fail to transform and transform the world perhaps. There is a transaction where your suffered detriment as a form of currency. If you sacrifice to help another, the other remains distant and unworthy very often. Helping that unworthy becomes an act of ego and personal benefit between you and God. The unworthy is a bystander often.
Mercy is an interpersonal act between you and the object of Mercy. God is a pleased observer. What do you think?

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Not sure exactly what you’re saying, but things usually get clarified as the thread moves along.

One thought though. In some instances, mercy and sacrifice are both encompassed in the same act.


I can appreciate what you’re saying, but I’ll offer my own contrasting thoughts as I don’t think you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head.

What comes to my mind is Psalm 51 and its closing. It is right and just to offer sacrifice to God. As Christians we do it in our persons and at the altar during mass, in union with Jesus Christ. However, without a contrite, properly disposed heart any sacrifice is meaningless. Building off of Psalm 51 and with Jesus’ words, a major part of that disposition is mercy towards our fellow brothers and sisters.

Mercy and sacrifice are not opposed, but the latter needs the former. Your post seems to put them in opposition to each other, but I think your point would be better stated in that we as Christians should be properly disposed and approach sacrifice in a positive way, not a negative way. The word sacrifice does not need a negative connotation.


You grew up Protestant? Or are you surrounded by them?

  1. Jesus used sacrificial language at the last supper and COMMANDED the twelve to “do this as often as you do it…”
  2. Jesus instituted the unbloody sacrifice to be done, according with His command, until the Parousia. “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim Your death, O Lord, until you come again” - the Parousia.
  3. We are NOT NOT NOT “re-sacrificing Christ” - that is utter nonsense perpetuated by those who, sadly, are ignorant of how the Lord founded His Church and of Christian history.
  4. It is called the “Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” and so it is. All through the OT, and up to today, there is no worship without sacrifice, as it becomes an empty gesture, costing nothing - a mere sentiment in some cases.
  5. At the Mass, we are not there (primarily) for the table of the Lord, the homily, the music, the fellowship - not even necessarily to receive the Eucharist (for those in sin). None of that. We are there to offer the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Father, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
  6. Since we are members of Christ’s Body, we offer ourselves at the same time and for the same purpose.

I don’t know if there are right or wrong answers and I think your point is well taken. For example, an act of Mercy OR sacrifice can both be charitable.
That said, Jesus draws the distinction here. He definitely takes the position God prefers mercy and that God does not seek sacrifice.
I think the " desire" of God is Intimacy in our actions. When something is a sacrifice, it is less intimate because the mindset is one of sacrificing rather than interpersonal intimacy.
That is why I threw in St Theresa of Avila. One of our great Mystics. She comments on Song of Songs, which is an intimate story. Mystics by nature are intimate with God and the world around them. If you love the cross
( something most difficult to love) the cross ceases to be a burden. That love is transformational. What I think God prefers is a spreading of intimacy.

I have been Catholic since birth and Baptism. Years of Catholic school attendance. I know the prolific use of " sacrifice"
That is why I raised what Jesus said. They are his words and they seem to conflict with an idea of transaction and sacrifice. Maybe they don’t.
The Gospel is only the essentials over 3 years. So if Jesus makes the point God does not seek sacrifice twice, thatis a big deal. The thread asks why.

  1. In Matthew 9:13 and 12:7, Jesus is talking to Pharisees who only know Mosaic Law of sacrifices, but not mercy. (Read in context and don’t overextend meanings.)

  2. Worship is ALWAYS a sacrifice. We offer Christ’s sacrifice in the Mass as our justification.


I guess I am interested in why God does not desire sacrifice. And I cited a mystic, and SONG OF SONGS where I am not sure you can say worship is sacrifice. I don’t equate intimacy with a sacrifice. Even though you can do the same act as either.
I appreciate your answer

  1. Good!
  2. Things are not always as they seem.
  3. Context!
  4. Who was Jesus speaking to? The Pharisees (and Sadducees), who offered sacrifice according to the Law of Moses, but who were merciless, throwing the elderly and widows out of their homes for small debts owed to them. This lead to the eventual death of some, and forced widows into begging for their sustenance. This is why He spoke about mercy rather than empty sacrifice.
  5. Once again, we are commanded to offer the unbloody Sacrifice - by Christ. This was at the last Passover/first Holy Eucharist. That in itself has immense meaning.
  6. Why not listen to or call Dr. David Anders on EWTN’s radio show “Called to Communion”? Being a dual-theologian (first Protestant, now Catholic), he can explain this much better than I can. In fact, what I have posted I have learned from him, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, and many others on EWTN/Catholic radio.

Jesus didn’t goof on those Pharisees. When he told them basically to go find out, he didn’t mean," but wait until the last supper happens or you are wasting your time."
I am not asking some Protestant argument here just so you know. I don’t claim to know the answer Jesus intended. I just ask that people offer what sent the Pharisees off to find out.
Also, I don’t think God is represented as condemning sacrifice. I do know he calls people who do it in the Temple fools in another passage.
It appears the passage he references is in Hosea I the OT.

I think charity is performed with mercy and sometimes through a sacrifice.

I am confused regarding your confusion. In both cases, the Pharisees/Scribes are clearly mentioned, and he was addressing them directly. If He speaks to all of us, we’d better get busy cutting hands off and plucking eyes out!

Since we fail to satisfy, why not call Dr. Anders? It will be wisdom to ponder.

I think when he tells them to to ," GO AND LEARN," that we all are in the same boat.
Remember, when he is talking, the answer is available.
So it must be now.
It isn’t a little question. It is a giant question because Jesus says it twice and it appears in the Gospel twice.
Jesus himself says GOD DOES NOT Desire A SACRIFICE.
I think it’s a good question.
If the Pharisees practices are relevant, and that is a reasonable assumption, then it could be the points I made about sacrifice

Old Testament Sacrifice.

We live in the New.

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D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Matthew 9: Ver. 13. I am not come. The just appear to be mentioned ironically, as it is said in Genesis, Behold Adam is become as one of us: and if I hunger, I will not tell thee. (Psalm xlix.) For St. Paul asserts, that none on earth were just: all have sinned, and need the glory of God. (Romans iii.) (St. Chrysostom, hom. xxxi.) — Christ came to call all men, both just and unjust, since he called Nathanael, who was a just man. But the meaning of these words is, I came not to call you, Scribes and Pharisees, who esteem yourselves just, and despise others, and who think you have no need of a physician; but I came to call those who acknowledge themselves sinners. (Theophylactus) — Or the meaning may be, “I came not to call the just to penance, of which they have no need;” thus in St. Luke, (chap. v.) I came not to call the just, but sinners to repentance. Or again, the meaning may be, I came not to call the just, because there are none just of themselves, and who stand not in need of my coming. St. Paul says, All have sinned, as above. (Menochius) — Mercy, and not sacrifice. Christ here prefers mercy to sacrifice; for, as St. Ambrose says, there is no virtue so becoming a Christian as mercy, but chiefly mercy to the poor. For if we give money to the poor, we at the same time give him life: if we clothe the naked, we adorn our souls with the robe of justice: if we receive the poor harbourless under our roof, we shall at the same time make friends with the saints in heaven, and shall afterwards be received by them into their eternal habitations. (St. Ambrose) — I will have mercy and not sacrifice: these words occur in the prophet Osee, chap. vi. The Pharisees thought they were making a great sacrifice, and acceptable to God, by breaking off all commerce with sinners; but God prefers the mercy of the charitable physician, who frequents the company of sinners; but merely to cure them. (Bible de Vence).

Matthew 12: Ver. 7. Mercy, and not sacrifice. (Osee vi. 6.) The meaning of this is, if you then approve of the mercy of the high priest, who refreshed the famished fugitive David, why do you condemn my disciples? (St. Jerome)


Jesus isn’t here referring to sacrifices such as, “I fasted on Wednesday” or “I abstained from meat on Friday”. He is quoting Hosea, and the verse in full says, “For I desire steadfast love (mercy) and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings.”

From this, we see that the type of “sacrifice” being referred to are those ritual sacrifices which took place in the Temple. Although He instituted them, God did not love them- they were a necessity for a fallen people. There were no sacrifices before sin entered the world, but once it did, God gave us sacrifice to bring us back into communion with Him. Although helpful and necessary, it would have been better if our first parents had remained in their Original Innocence, and it is always better for one to not sin than to sin.


That is sort of what I said. It suggests lots of possibilities.

I think it is God’s desire for Christian love and intimacy. The temple burnt sacrifice is a payment and transaction. There is nothing transformational.
I fasted on Wednesday did what? It’s a private transaction.
That is the Hosea context not Matthew, but God not desiring sacrifice is the same universally.

The reference Jesus is citing in both passages in Matthew goes back to Hosea 6:6. Hosea is holding Israel and Judah to account for engaging in idolatry to other gods while still offering token sacrifices to YHWH in order to cull his favor. In this sense he is saying to Israel and Judah that your sacrifices are worthless since you have no loyalty to YHWH. However, as you continue to read Hosea, the message is that though they will face judgment, God himself will rescue Israel and Judah and restore them to his favor.

However, when Christ quotes the passage there is a slightly different wording due to the Septuagint translation, and Christ is demonstrating the full meaning of Hosea 6:6 in the greater context of the entire book of Hosea. That God desires to show his mercy more than he wants your sacrifice, which holds no value.

So when the Pharisees attempt to rebuke Jesus for having the audacity to eat with sinners, Christ tells them that he came to fulfill the prophecy of Hosea by coming to call sinners to repentance, and in the greater fulfillment of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus ultimately becomes the sacrifice, offered by God instead of us, that provides the mercy that God desires to show to his people.


Mercy has taken hold of my soul recently. Our need for it, in particular. I counted over the weekend six distinct times during Mass when we specifically ask the Lord for mercy, three times at the start, once in the Gloria, once during the Eucharist, and then imo also during the Our Father, with the petition, “Forgive us our trespasses”, which to me is very similar to, “Lord have mercy”, and, “Have mercy on us”.

The Our Father also includes our promise, “As we forgive those who trespass against us”, which means that we are to have mercy on others as well.

The whole topic of mercy has really been hitting home for me recently, and wouldn’t you know it, mercy has been all along right in the Mass. Thanks be to God.

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