Gn 41:55-57,42:5-7;17-24; Ps 33:2,3,10,11,18,19; Mt 10:1-7
Famine still grips the whole world. Hunger has survived the centuries. Our brothers and sisters hunger and die of malnourishment every day. However, a greater hunger grips the human family. There is a famine more profound and more deadly. We hunger and thirst for God, the Living God. Holy men and women taught their contemporaries to sing skillfully with shouts of gladness. Their deepest desire, the desire for God, became a new song of praise heard among the people of God. Those who hoped for the Lord’s kindness were delivered from death and preserved in spite of famine. Like Joseph in Egypt and Jesus in Israel we, too, are sent out to confront the famine. Each day we are sent from the Liturgy to all lost sheep with a clear message: “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The sons of Israel were on a mission from their hungry families; they came to Egypt to procure rations. This was the only nation wise enough to prepare for the famine, and its wisdom came from a foreigner who could interpret dreams. Pharaoh released the prisoner Joseph because he believed in his God-given foresight and wisdom, and the king gave him full authority to prepare the country for disaster yet to come upon Egypt and all the nations. The brothers were wise enough to seek food, but such wisdom did not prevail in their earlier decisions. Foolish envy had shaped their decision to sell Joseph, their brother, into slavery. They thought this would be the end of him. The Lord God foiled these plans. Joseph ends up with the authority to satisfy his brothers’ hunger or make them suffer just a little longer. The brothers were beginning to regret their rejection of Joseph, and they saw the present plight as a punishment. Joseph, without revealing his identity yet, understood what they said and was moved to tears. Did Joseph weep because he felt the pain of his betrayers? Or, did Joseph weep to behold the design of God’s heart?
Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them authority to be Apostles. They are commanded to drive out evil spirits and cure the sick. They are to seek out the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This first missionary move was to fulfill the design of God’s heart. All through history, the Lord God had made himself known and entered into covenants with the people he called to be his own. Because they were familiar with his ways, because they were delivered from death and preserved in spite of famine, these twelve tribes were to be a powerful witness to all who hoped for God’s kindness. The promise made to Jacob and his twelve sons is fulfilled in Jesus and The Twelve. The design of the Father’s heart is made known to the lost sheep of the house of Israel so that the other sheep, not of this fold, would hear the divine call to the Kingdom. We are those sheep. Our deepest hunger and our strongest thirst have brought us here to find provision. We, who become what we eat in Holy Communion, are now the true food and drink for all who are lost in the famine of our age. We continue to learn from the wisdom of Saint Benedict to make our deepest longing into a new song. A song the Spirit sings with our voices through Christ, the New Joseph, who satisfies all our hunger and thirst as he leads us into the Kingdom of His Father.