Sometimes the most important insights are simple and yet we keep forgetting them. I know that I need to be constantly reminded of this one. These words of Jesus to Pharisees who were criticizing him for associating with "sinners" point up the fruitlessness of practices without a corresponding change of heart. This was nothing new. It is an insight found throughout the Hebrew scriptures and especially in the Psalms. It is repeated so often because they like us, like me, tend to forget it.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
What the Divine One desires of us is not a set of religious practices. It is not even a set of acts of mercy but rather a heart that is merciful. From such a heart will come acts of mercy in the same way that fruit appears in an orchard: naturally and without conscious effort. Trying to somehow produce the fruit without the life force of the tree or plant is precisely fruitless.
Eric Fromm wrote that the great masters of living all agreed that the key to a joyful, fulfilled, and engaged life was "to be, not to have." To that, we can add, "to do." If I focus on being who I truly am in the world as it most is, acts consistent with my true nature will emerge and flourish.
What could be easier....or harder?