July 11, 2019 – Thursday 14th Week in Ordinary time
Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot
From the Book of Genesis (44:18-21,23b-29;45:1-5)
Judah approached Joseph and said: “I beg you, my lord,
let your servant speak earnestly to my lord,
and do not become angry with your servant,
for you are the equal of Pharaoh.
My lord asked your servants, ‘Have you a father, or another brother?’
So we said to my lord, ‘We have an aged father,
and a young brother, the child of his old age.
This one’s full brother is dead,
and since he is the only one by that mother who is left,
his father dotes on him.’
Then you told your servants,
‘Bring him down to me that my eyes may look on him.
Unless your youngest brother comes back with you,
you shall not come into my presence again.’
When we returned to your servant our father,
we reported to him the words of my lord.
“Later, our father told us to come back and buy some food for the family.
So we reminded him, ‘We cannot go down there;
only if our youngest brother is with us can we go,
for we may not see the man if our youngest brother is not with us.’
Then your servant our father said to us,
‘As you know, my wife bore me two sons.
One of them, however, disappeared, and I had to conclude
that he must have been torn to pieces by wild beasts;
I have not seen him since.
If you now take this one away from me, too,
and some disaster befalls him,
you will send my white head down to the nether world in grief.'”
Joseph could no longer control himself
in the presence of all his attendants,
so he cried out, “Have everyone withdraw from me!”
Thus no one else was about when he made himself known to his brothers.
But his sobs were so loud that the Egyptians heard him,
and so the news reached Pharaoh’s palace.
“I am Joseph,” he said to his brothers.
“Is my father still in good health?”
But his brothers could give him no answer,
so dumbfounded were they at him.
“Come closer to me,” he told his brothers.
When they had done so, he said:
“I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt.
But now do not be distressed,
and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here.
It was really for the sake of saving lives
that God sent me here ahead of you.”
From the Gospel of Matthew (10:7-15)
Jesus said to his Apostles:
“As you go, make this proclamation:
‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.
Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts;
no sack for the journey, or a second tunic,
or sandals, or walking stick.
The laborer deserves his keep.
Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it,
and stay there until you leave.
As you enter a house, wish it peace.
If the house is worthy,
let your peace come upon it;
if not, let your peace return to you.
Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—
go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.
Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable
for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment
than for that town.”
I was about to leave for a mission exposure, I made sure that everything I need was in my bag. I doubled checked my things to be sure that I have not forgotten anything. My bag was full and heavy as I walked and passed through the hills and corn fields. When I reached the area, I realized that I brought a lot of useless things.
At home and at school, I was trained to be prepared, to be secured and self-sufficient. Most of us also were brought up in that kind of practice. Thus, it is very common that we make ourselves ready, prepared, and independent.
However, in today’s Gospel, Jesus reminded his disciples to travel light as they were sent to cure the sick, to bring life and forgiveness, to bring blessing and peace to many homes. The disciples were told by Jesus to practically bring nothing.
This is quite harsh and truly difficult, isn’t it? However, there is wisdom behind the words of Jesus. Our desire to be prepared, to be self-reliant and self-sufficient would sometimes come from our deep anxiety of the future, of what would come next.
But what if a circumstance would not allow you to have any preparation? What if an event would surprisingly come and you have nothing to bring but go ahead with nothing? We will certainly be most insecure and helpless.
This reminds me of the journey of Joseph as what the Book of Genesis told us today. Practically, Joseph was stripped of anything he had. He was sold as a slave to the Egyptians by his own brothers. He was seduced by the wife of his master and then, imprisoned unjustly. He was forgotten in the prison for 13 years.
However, considering all these terrible and horrible events in the life of Joseph, he remained faithful and trustful to God. He might have asked God for these dreadful tragedies. He surely had sleepless night. But Joseph was calm and a discerning person. How could he remain calm and be discerning to what God planned for him?
As Joseph had nothing with him in his journey to Egypt as a slave, Joseph also did not have any grudges and bitterness in his heart. He did not let anger, resentment and hatred to burden him and prevent him from discovering and doing what God prepared for him. This is how Joseph found himself to be the savior of his own family and many peoples when hunger hit their land. God prepared him for this so that in Joseph forgiveness shall be granted and life will be given.
We also find such attitude of traveling light in the life of St. Benedict whose feast we celebrate today. Benedict found that there are many things in his life that only kept him away from God. For this reason, Benedict let go of those baggage that he found unnecessary in his life. These include the busy and complicated life of the city, his material possessions and even power and authority as a rich man. He found the life of being a monk as his means of attaining such freedom and peace and encountering God. In fact, it was in this way too that Benedict became instrumental in helping people to find peace and discover God in their life.
Jesus invites us today, as he urged also his disciples in the Gospel, to “travel light” by having a childlike trust in the providence of God. We are called to travel light and to get rid of those unnecessary baggage behind.
Today, our unnecessary baggage would range from our own material selfishness to our addictive compulsions and negative behaviors and to our unhealthy thoughts such as endless complaints, anxieties, worries and doubts. All these unnecessary things would only make our journey heavy and tiring. These will only prevent us from enjoying our journey and missing the many surprises that may come.
To travel light also means to be able to welcome the goodness of God through other people. This is basically the reason why Jesus told the disciples not bring anything so that they too will be able to welcome the generosity of God through the generosity of the people. Joseph was also grateful for those people who helped him and especially to the Pharaoh who gave him freedom and responsibility to bring life to others.
Let us allow ourselves then to be helped and to be assisted by others. And in return also, let us allow also ourselves to be of help and of assistance to those who are in need so that through us, God’s generosity will be best expressed. It is in this way that we shall be able to bring healing, life, forgiveness and peace to our brothers and sisters. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR