Gn 49:29-32,50:15-26; Ps 105:1-7; Mt 10:24-33
We rejoice because we seek the Lord. Rather, should we not rejoice because the Lord Jesus seeks us with such faithfulness and energy? Our seeking is so meager when we compare it to the Lord’s seeking. Even as we proclaim his wondrous deeds among us, the Lord seeks us. We proclaim by our witness and in the purity of life, “He, the LORD, is our God; throughout the earth his judgments prevail.” This is the universal acclamation of all the saints in every time and place. Joseph had to reassure his fearful brothers after their father died, “even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve his present end, the survival of many people.” In today’s Gospel the Lord Jesus tries to dispel the fear of his Apostles, “so do not be afraid.” We can live with hearts that rejoice, or we can live with hearts that fear. It’s entirely up to us. However, there is no room for fear in a heart that rejoices.
Jacob, who had wandered about his whole life long, is careful to instruct his sons about the place of his burial. He wants to settle, finally, in a grave near his Grandparents, Abraham and Sarah, his parents, Isaac and Rebekah, and his wife Leah. The death of the patriarch Jacob stirs the hearts of his sons to fear their brother, Joseph. As they talked among themselves, “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!” Perhaps this is to be expected. These men have had little time to grow with Joseph in mutual respect and love. From their twisted hearts and broken spirits, they can only imagine that Joseph would do this, because this is not far from what they would have done if the tables were reversed. Joseph broke into tears when his brothers tried to “make up” for what they had done to him. The only thing Joseph can say is, “have no fear. Can I take the place of God?” Joseph knows in his heart the great tenderness of the Lord God; so how could he respond in any other way? Joseph reveals the heart of God through his human heart. This is difficult for his hard-hearted brothers to accept. Forgiveness makes demands on the forgiving and on the forgiven. Will I be able to forgive others as I have been forgiven?
Like Joseph, the Lord Jesus affirms that no one can take the place of God. No one can deny God his freedom to forgive. No slave is above his master. No follower of Jesus can deny forgiveness to anyone because the Master forgives us so abundantly. If they have called the Lord Jesus a servant of Beelzebul, what make you think you’ll escape being associated with the Evil One. Just like Joseph’s brother, his power to forgive them is so foreign, that they cannot imagine beyond their own hard hearts. When the Apostles preach they will be subject to the same rejection that the Lord Jesus experienced. Such hatred and prejudice will only make an impact on the body not on the soul. The Lord Jesus commands them to save their fear for the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Fear the Lord; do not be afraid of those men and woman who hate you and persecute you. They can only harm the body. We, too, have nothing to fear. We do not fear hatred, nor persecution. In the Body and Blood of Christ we live and move and have our being, we have nothing to fear. Such is the fearless existence by which we continue to invite everyone to acknowledge the heavenly Father so that Christ will acknowledge us before his Father in heaven.