July 8, 2021
by Eileen Burke-Sullivan
Creighton University's Division of Mission and Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 386

Genesis 44:18-21, 23b-29; 45:1-5
Psalm 105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21
Matthew 10:7-15
Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Ordinary Time Symbols in Our Home

The lectionary of Ordinary Time has us consider those ancestors who have been faith filled.  How did they live the commands of God as they had heard them, and how they love and care for one another in the world which they inherited.  The Jews are a people who are the descendants of the sons of Jacob (renamed Israel) who make up twelve tribes – one for each son.  We know that Jacob had at least two wives and at least two women servant concubines.  The older ten are the sons of Leah, Jacob’s first but “unloved” wife, and two different serving women. Rachel (Leah’s sister and Jacob’s beloved) finally bore two sons, Joseph, and Benjamin, and died in childbirth with Benjamin.

Those who are familiar with the musical drama of the 1960’s “Joseph and the Technicolored Coat” will remember the story of the older sons' jealousy of Joseph’s favored status with his father, and their sin of planning to murder him but selling him to a slave caravan going into Egypt instead.  By the time the part of the story we read today occurs, Joseph has already suffered the degradation of slavery, imprisonment, hunger and violence in a foreign land, but Joseph is not only his human father’s favorite, he is seen in the book of Genesis to be an instrument of God to rescue his extended family, thus rescuing God’s “plan” for the nation of Israel to bring forth salvation.

Salvation from the sin of Adam and Eve is the work of God that all Scripture focuses on.  Over the generations we have come to try and make sense and meaning out of suffering that the conflict of sin in our lives causes.  Today’s first reading is a good text to spend some time imagining ourselves within, in the manner of Ignatian prayer.  We see the eleven brothers who are begging for food for their family and community and we see the one brother who has suffered greatly at their hands and yet, reaches out in compassion and reconciliation toward them.  Initially they are so stunned that they can’t make meaning of what Joseph is saying to them and then, gradually, their hearts and ears are open to the gift he is offering them. 

The wonderful implications of the resurrection are present in this story.  Confusion, followed by clarity of sight, celebrated with food and reconciliation of the brothers and the foundation of their (ultimate) nation of Israel from which the fullness of Resurrection and Reconciliation will be found.

Today’s Gospel commands us to tell this good news everywhere by our stories and by our example of life.  If our message of peace is rejected, then we are to move on – not linger where men and women will not hear the good news of salvation. 

In prayer I ask God where I am in these scriptural accounts.  Have I really heard the Good News, accepted the suffering caused by sin, and reached out to heal that suffering with mercy?  Do I remain caught in jealousy or vengeance?  Am I one of those who has received and given away peace by welcoming the stranger, or have I driven the peaceful from home, city, or nation? – Am I one who seeks to tell the Gospel everywhere?

The Kingdom of God is at hand:  repent and believe in the Gospel!

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