July 10, 2019 – Wednesday 14th Week in Ordinary Time
From the Book of Genesis (41:55-57; 42:5-7A, 17-24A)
When hunger came to be felt throughout the land of Egypt
and the people cried to Pharaoh for bread,
Pharaoh directed all the Egyptians to go to Joseph
and do whatever he told them.
When the famine had spread throughout the land,
Joseph opened all the cities that had grain
and rationed it to the Egyptians,
since the famine had gripped the land of Egypt.
In fact, all the world came to Joseph to obtain rations of grain,
for famine had gripped the whole world.
The sons of Israel were among those
who came to procure rations.
It was Joseph, as governor of the country,
who dispensed the rations to all the people.
When Joseph’s brothers came and knelt down before him
with their faces to the ground,
he recognized them as soon as he saw them.
But Joseph concealed his own identity from them
and spoke sternly to them.
With that, he locked them up in the guardhouse for three days.
On the third day Joseph said to his brothers:
“Do this, and you shall live; for I am a God-fearing man.
If you have been honest,
only one of your brothers need be confined in this prison,
while the rest of you may go
and take home provisions for your starving families.
But you must come back to me with your youngest brother.
Your words will thus be verified, and you will not die.”
To this they agreed.
To one another, however, they said:
“Alas, we are being punished because of our brother.
We saw the anguish of his heart when he pleaded with us,
yet we paid no heed;
that is why this anguish has now come upon us.”
Reuben broke in,
“Did I not tell you not to do wrong to the boy?
But you would not listen!
Now comes the reckoning for his blood.”
The brothers did not know, of course,
that Joseph understood what they said,
since he spoke with them through an interpreter.
But turning away from them, he wept.
From the Gospel of Matthew (10:1-7)
Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.
The names of the Twelve Apostles are these:
first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew;
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John;
Philip and Bartholomew,
Thomas and Matthew the tax collector;
James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus;
Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot
who betrayed Jesus.
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,
“Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.
Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”
Reflection by Bro. Vincent Chloe Que, CSsR
In our gospel today, Jesus sends his disciples to proclaim that ‘the kingdom is near’. Did Jesus imagine his disciples going around cities and villages repeating these words? Or did he intend them to gather the people and explain to them how the Kingdom is near? Perhaps. But positively, Jesus was inviting them to do it in a more profound manner – by means of their life-witnessing. Let us take our first reading as an example.
Joseph experienced a great amount of ‘bullying’ from his brothers. In fact, it was his brothers who sold him as a slave. Several years later, when Joseph gained a prominent role in Egypt and his brothers were in need, he was greatly tempted to show the same cruelty that his brother’s showed him. He had the power to do to them whatever he wanted to. And he did. He placed them in prison. He gave them very steep deals. And he inflicted them injuries. Out of anger and remorse, he was willing to close his eyes and forget who they were.
But after a while, when he saw the suffering of his brothers, he was overcome by regret. He was filled with mercy for his brothers and “he wept.” There is so much in common between our experience and that of Joseph. Indeed it is easier to get even and be cruel to people who are cruel to us. But Jesus taught us that the way is narrow and the path is difficult. We fall, and we commit mistakes; but if we see others as our brothers and sisters, just as Joseph did, we have the power to change… we can forgive and ask forgiveness as well.
When Jesus called his disciples, he did not chose them because they were perfect. He chose them because even in their imperfections, they saw each other as brothers. And that is how I imagine the Kingdom of God. And people will know the Kingdom when we, His children, will treat each one with love, respect, kindness, compassion, genuine care, and forgiveness. So when Jesus sent them to proclaim that ‘the kingdom is near’ I imagine Jesus telling them, “go and be kind to one another, go and forgive each other, go and love all the way I have loved you. And people will know that the Kingdom is here.”
Let us keep this in mind and in our hearts that Jesus’ invitation extends even to us today. Our invitation is captured in the words of St. Francis to his brother, “preach the Gospel at all times, use words when necessary.”