An embrace of grief and love makes way for reconciliation

July 12, 2019 – Friday 14th Week in Ordinary Time

From the Book of Genesis (46:1-7,28-30; Mt 10:16-23)

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.”

HOMILY

Have you lost somebody whom you loved so much? I met a mother last year in one of our mission areas who lost her youngest son. Her son worked in Saudi Arabia but one day her son just disappeared. His co-workers were clueless of his whereabouts. The family sought the help of government agencies to locate him. To no avail, it has been 4 years now since his disappearance.

This is so painful for the whole family. This also left a grieving and sorrowful heart of a mother. She still believes that her son is alive and can be found later though her husband and other children had already lost their hope. With her, I prayed also for miracle.

This kind of experience creates deep sorrow in us, leaving our hearts broken. It is so painful to lose a loved one especially when it is so sudden. We would surely be able to relate with this especially those who have endured the pain of separation because of work, illness and death and even because of a broken home.

Such situation is what we find from the bible too. We have been following these past days the story of separation and brokenness of Jacob’s life and his family. Yet, as the story unfolded, we also see how God worked silently to make His promises fulfilled. Despite the unfaithfulness of those whom God called, God cannot be prevented from working wonders and making things be realized according to God’s desire.

Today, Jacob (the deceiver) who was already called Israel (the one who wrestles with God) was reunited and the whole family reconciled with Joseph. The reconciliation was so moving if one would imagine it. Joseph had been separated from his family for more than 20 years. 13 years of that he spent in the prison in Egypt.

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As Joseph met his old father, Joseph could not hold it anymore the feelings that were burning within him. There were so much longing, pain, grief and sorrow because of that separation. But at last, these feelings had been transformed into joy and love.

The Book of Genesis described this reunion and reconciliation through that embrace of Joseph and Jacob. Joseph wept for a long time in the arms of his father!

This tells us of this embrace of both grief and love that paves the way of reconciliation. This is the invitation for us today. We are called to embrace our pain and sorrow rather than denying them. We are called to confront the cause of our grief or anger or bitterness in order to be reconciled.

This was what Joseph showed to us. Embracing his father also means embracing the whole family even those brothers of him who betrayed him. Thus, it was an embrace of grief because of the many years of longing and pain that it caused. This means that any painful or negative feeling is not to be suppressed but embraced and accepted. It is in recognizing that we become more human.

That embrace too was an embrace of love. Joseph longed for this to happen. His long weep and embrace was his way of showing his affection to his father and the whole family. Joseph was able to do this because he let go of those tendency to take revenge and violence against them. That is why, this embrace made way for reconciliation and peace. God’s promise has indeed been fulfilled.

Hopefully, we too shall learn how to embrace our grief and embrace with love rather than with revenge and violence against others and ourselves. Hinuat pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR

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