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Friday – Fourteenth week – OT1
Readings: Gen 46:1-7, 28-30; Mt 10:16-23.
1/ First Reading: RSV Genesis 46:1 So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2 And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here am I.” 3 Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt; for I will there make of you a great nation. 4 I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again; and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.” 5 Then Jacob set out from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. 5 They also took their cattle and their goods, which they had gained in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him, 7 his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters; all his offspring he brought with him into Egypt. 28 He sent Judah before him to Joseph, to appear before him in Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen. 29 Then Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father in Goshen; and he presented himself to him, and fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. 30 Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive.”
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes.
I. THEME: We must persevere to the end in order to be saved.
People are afraid of suffering and like to see results immediately while God wants people to suffer and to wait. Experience also teaches people that if they want to be successful, they must be persevered to overcome all trials; if they aren’t, they shall leave their goal unfinished and never see their desired results.
Today readings teach us to patiently wait until we reach the desired result. In the first reading, Jacob and Joseph must endure many sufferings before they could unite and live happily, In the Gospel, Jesus warned his disciples before he sent them out to preach the Good News, “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
1/ Reading I: “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again.”
1.1/ Jacob was on the way to meet Joseph, his lost son: If we look back at the lives of Jacob and Joseph, we shall understand God’s providence and the meaning of the sufferings which both of them went through.
(1) Jacob’s life: He fought with Esau in his mother’s womb to be born first, but unsuccessfully. In God’s providence, Rebekah, his mother, had a clever plan to take away Esau’s first-born right and Isaac’s blessing for him. The two brothers constantly fought with each other from that time on. When Isaac sent Jacob to live with Laban, a fellow-country man, Jacob was used by Laban in his marriage and dividing of properties. Therefore, Jacob must leave Laban and returned to his fatherland. When returned home, Jacob again faced the jealousy and division in his family. His sons hated Joseph, his younger son, and deceived him so he believed that Joseph was devoured by a beast. When a severe famine happened, he must send his sons to go to Egypt to buy food for the family. He lost Simon, another son, in Egyptian prison. When he sent them to Egypt the second time, he must let Benjamin, his youngest son, to go with his other sons, without knowing whether he shall be back with him or not.
But in all circumstances, Jacob still believes in God’s providence. God’s hands are always with him and He protects him all the days of his life. Today passage reported a vision in which he met God at Beer Sheba. God said to him in a night vision, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt; for I will there make of you a great nation.I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again; and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”
(2) Joseph’s life: Like his father, Joseph also endured suffering from his childhood. He was hated by his brothers because of his father’s love and his interpretation of dreams and visions which God grants to him. He was sold by his brothers to the Egyptian merchants for twenty pieces of silver, and these people sold him to an Egyptian officer. His life took another suffering when he was confined in prison because he refused to commit intercourse with the officer’s wife. She was angry and falsely accused Joseph of forcing her, and her husband threw Joseph into prison. At last, due to his talent of interpretation of dreams and visions, he was brought to the royal palace to interpret King Pharaoh’ dreams and he was assigned as the Prime Minister, the second man after the king.
Like his father, Joseph always believes in God’s providence and tries to live a righteous life. Though he was falsely accused by his brothers and the Egyptian officer’s wife, he didn’t hate them or try to get even with them. In opposition, he was ready to forgive them and to bring benefits for his family.
1.2/ The encounter of the father and the son: The heaven has eyes. God always follows and blesses Jacob and Joseph, who always revere God and love others. They must be separated a long time and must endure lots of misunderstanding, sorrow, suffering and shame. At last, Jacob had a chance to see his beloved son whom he thought that he was no longer live in this world. His son isn’t only well but also is the Prime Minister in King Pharaoh’s royal palace, and has power to give material gains for his family.
The encounter between the father and the son was reported as follows, “He sent Judah before him to Joseph, to appear before him in Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.Then Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father in Goshen; and he presented himself to him, and fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive.””
2/ Gospel: “Whoever endures to the end will be saved.”
2.1/ Sufferings are always waiting for Christ’s disciples.
(1) Jesus didn’t hide anything from his disciples; he told them that they must face sufferings when he declared to them, “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.” When sheep enter in the midst of wolves, they must face death. The only way the disciples can overcome this danger is to believe in God’s wisdom and strength.
(2) The disciples must face different kinds of people.
– With ecclesiastical power: “But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues.” The Church doesn’t always accept and protect the truth.
– With political power: “You will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans.” This is easy to understand because Christ’s disciples live and witness for heavenly standards which often opposite with worldly standards.
– With familial power: “Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.” The truth is always hurted, those in the family doesn’t always recognize, rightly evaluate, and accept the truth.
2.2/ God always accompanies with the disciples: Facing the devil’s and worldly powers, the disciples need to have God’s help. Some helps are listed in today passage.
(1) He gives the disciple widom to answer back: Jesus said to his disciples, “When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say.For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
(2) He gives the disciples strength to overcome sufferings: Jesus advised his apostles, “You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Sufferings can’t be lacked in our life. God uses sufferings as the mean so that we can use them to show our faith and love for Him.
– If we are always faithful to God and to live a good life in the midst of sufferings, we shall surely be protected and blessed by God.
– If we understand the meaning of suffering as such, we shall not feel sorry for ourselves, nor blame God, nor hate those caused us to suffer; but know how to use sufferings to sanctify ourselves, to firmly believe in God, and to faithfully love and to serve others.