Those Sent Are In God’s Hands
“Do not be afraid,” said Joseph to his brothers. He forgave them, realizing that his sufferings caused by them were the seed of the future of God’s people.
“Do not be afraid.” says Jesus to his disciples three times. Even when persecuted and apparently failing in their mission, like Jesus, their master, they are in God’s hands. God takes care of his own. God’s kingdom cannot be built up without crosses and sacrifices, not without being contested by a world that wants to create its own future.
1 Reading: Genesis 49:29-32; 50:15-26a
Jacob gave his sons this charge: “Since I am about to be taken to my people, bury me with my fathers in the cave that lies in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, facing on Mamre, in the land of Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial ground. There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried, and so are Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there, too, I buried Leah–the field and the cave in it that had been purchased from the Hittites.” Now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful and thought, “Suppose Joseph has been nursing a grudge against us and now plans to pay us back in full for all the wrong we did him!” So they approached Joseph and said: “Before your father died, he gave us these instructions: ‘You shall say to Joseph, Jacob begs you to forgive the criminal wrongdoing of your brothers, who treated you so cruelly.’ Please, therefore, forgive the crime that we, the servants of your father’s God, committed.” When they spoke these words to him, Joseph broke into tears. Then his brothers proceeded to fling themselves down before him and said, “Let us be your slaves!” But Joseph replied to them: “Have no fear. Can I take the place of God? Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve his present end, the survival of many people. Therefore have no fear. I will provide for you and for your children.” By thus speaking kindly to them, he reassured them. Joseph remained in Egypt, together with his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years. He saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation, and the children of Manasseh’s son Machir were also born on Joseph’s knees. Joseph said to his brothers: “I am about to die. God will surely take care of you and lead you out of this land to the land that he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Then, putting the sons of Israel under oath, he continued, “When God thus takes care of you, you must bring my bones up with you from this place.” Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7
R. (see Psalm 69:33) Be glad you lowly ones; may your hearts be glad!
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds. R.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly. R.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail. R.
Alleluia: 1 Peter 4:14
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you,
for the Spirit of God rests upon you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Matthew 10:24-33
Jesus said to his Apostles: “No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household! “Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”
Despite his brothers’ fears, Joseph was much too magnanimous to consider making them pay for their earlier act of betrayal in attempting to rid themselves of him. As they make their plea before him, Joseph forgives them and promises to provide for them in the future. Always faithful to his origins, he asks that his remains be brought back to Canaan for burial.
God’s providence is a key feature of the Joseph story. The Gospel today speaks in the same terms. Just as Jesus indicates to his followers that persecution will be their lot, he also assures them that God will provide for them. The body may be tormented but the spirit will survive. God will never forget those who profess the name of Christ.
The primary lesson of the Joseph story is forgiveness, a lesson that all of us can take to heart. How often we treat others with austerity and coldness. There is the added lesson of maintaining that broader vision. Disappointment in life does not spell the end. The One who is faithful remains ever so. “With courage and determination we continue the journey.
Do not be afraid of professing your faith or of living it. Trust in God, who stands behind you. May God strengthen and bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!