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Wednesday – Fourteenth week – OT1
Readings: Gen 41:55-57, 42:5-7, 17-24; Mt 10:1-7
1/ First Reading: RSV Genesis 41:55 When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.” 56 So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth. 5 Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. 6 Now Joseph was governor over the land; he it was who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came, and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. 7 Joseph saw his brothers, and knew them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” 17 And he put them all together in prison for three days. 18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined in your prison, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households, 20 and bring your youngest brother to me; so your words will be verified, and you shall not die.” And they did so. 21 Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he besought us and we would not listen; therefore is this distress come upon us.” 22 And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the lad? But you would not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” 23 They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. 24 Then he turned away from them and wept; and he returned to them and spoke to them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes.
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 10:1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
I. THEME: Recognizing God’s wonderful providence
The event of April 30, 1975 changed the lives of many individuals, families, communities, Vietnam as well as many nations which received Vietnamese refugees. When this event had just happened, many considered it as a shameful and terrible event because it caused countless pains for the Vietnamese; but after forty years of that event, we recognize many good things that came from it. Firstly, the Vietnamese in everywhere sent millions dollars to support their relatives in Vietnam; without this support, Vietnam might be in deep trouble. Secondly, many Vietnamese refugees have opportunities to contact with and to receive the quintessence of the world’s best civilizations; without this event, they are still around the bamboo trees and the buffaloes of their villages. Thirdly, many Vietnamese priests and religious brothers and sisters now evangelize and do apostolic works for nations who did the same thing for them before to lessen the Church’s shortage of vocations. Looking back at the April 30, 1975 event, we must confess that there is God’s hand working through this event.
Today readings help us to recognize God’s wonderful providence in the history of humankind. In the first reading, out of jealousy, Joseph’s brothers sold him for the Egyptian merchants and lied to their father that Joseph was devoured by a beast. His father and brothers thought they shall never have a chance to meet him again; but God arranges a way for them to meet each other. When a famine happened in their region, they must come to Egypt to buy food and they met Joseph there. In the Gospel, no one would think that a group of men which Jesus formed, rural, illiterate, weak and fearful, could go everywhere to preach the Gospel and become the foundation for a religion which has members about half of the world’s population!
1/ Reading I: “Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.”
1.1/ God prepared for Joseph and his family: To understand today passage, we need to return to the event which Joseph’s brothers sold him to the Egyptian merchants at Dothan. Joseph is one of the patriarch Jacob’s twelve sons, and the brother of Benjamin, the youngest and from the same mother. Since Jacob had Joseph in his old ages, he loved him more than other sons. God gave Joseph the talent to decode dreams and visions. His brothers hated him for this talent and wanted to kill him. The opportunity came when Jacob sent him to bring food for his brothers who were taking their flock at Dothan. In the beginning, they wanted to kill him; but by the interference of Reuben, the oldest brother; they agreed to throw him down a dry cistern and let him die of hungry. They changed their minds when they were eating and saw the Egyptian caravans passed by. Judah suggested selling Joseph to these merchants and they agreed to sell him with twenty pieces of silver. These merchants brought him to Egypt. Joseph went through lots of up and down from that time; but by his talent of interpreting dreams, Joseph was brought to the Egyptian palace to explain King Pharaoh’s dreams. When he was successful in interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, he was instituted as the Prime Minister, the second man after the king (c/f Gen 37-50).
1.2/ The encounter between Joseph and his sons: God let a severe famine happening in all the regions. All people were hungry. “The people cried to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.”So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt.” The famine wasn’t only in Egypt but was also severe over all the earth.People in everywhere came to buy wheat from Joseph; thus the sons of Israel were also among the others who came to buy.
(1) Joseph’s reaction: When “Joseph’s brothers came, and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.Joseph saw his brothers, and knew them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.”And he put them all together in prison for three days.On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God:if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined in your prison, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households,and bring your youngest brother to me; so your words will be verified, and you shall not die.” And they did so.”
(2) His brothers’ reactions: They didn’t recognize Joseph in his royal dress; but they were regretted because they caused damage for him. They said to each other, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he besought us and we would not listen; therefore is this distress come upon us.”
They knew if they borrow, then they must pay. The oldest brother Reuben reminded them the past story, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the lad? But you would not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.”
They didn’t know that Joseph understood what they were saying. Joseph turned away from them and wept; and then he returned to them and spoke to them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes. He sold them grains and released them to their homeland.
2/ Gospel: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
2.1/ Jesus gave his blessings to the apostles so they could distribute them to others: In God’s providence, Jesus didn’t work by himself, but he selected twelve apostles to train, to bestow his power, and to give them the mission of preaching the gospel to every people. Imitating Jesus, the Church, through many generations, still continues Jesus’ mission. On the one hand, she continually preaches the Gospel to all nations; on the other hand, she continues to form the preachers and to send them out so that they continue to preach the gospel for future generation. When we look back to the history of the Church, we undoubtely believe Christ’s presence in the Church.
2.2/ The list of Jesus’ twelve apostles: Matthew reported the names of the twelve as follows: “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 him.”
– Looking at the list, the first thing we notice is that these people are plain, there isn’t anything special about them according to the worldly standard, not counting their sins and weaknesses. This shows that what they shall accomplish, completely depend on God’s strength and power. He help the plain people to accomplish wonderful works.
– People used to choose those who have the same interest or temperament. Jesus chose his apostles who had different temperaments to the point of conflict. Peter who was quick to talk to live with John, a thinker. Simon, a zealot who opposed all foreign power to live with Matthew, a tax-collector, who worked for Roman emperor. Thomas, a doubter, who denied to believe all other apostles’ witness that Jesus has risen. Jesus could help them to discard individual differences to live together and to accomplish the given mission.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God is the One who controls all things which happen in this world, not any other god. We must absolutely believe in His power.
– We shouldn’t quickly blame on God and others when an event happens; but be quiet to find out God’s will and do it to benefit ourselves, our family and community.