Gn 46:1-7,28-30; Ps 37:3,4,18,19,27,28,39,40; Mt10:16-23
Is the request of our heart for power, pleasure, or possessions? After years of trusting in the Lord and doing good, do our hearts have new requests? Perhaps, more than anything else we want to delight in the Lord. So, it is no surprise to hear the Lord God promise to grant our heart’s requests in the Psalms. Through many years of sacrifice and struggle Jacob learns to trust in the Lord, again in his old age he hears the call, “do not be afraid to go down to Egypt for there I will make you a great nation.” What seems to be just exile, the Lord promises will be greatness. The Lord Jesus makes a similar promise when he sends his Apostles out on mission, “you will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.” What seems to be just persecution, the Lord promises will be salvation. Do our hearts request the mystery of the cross in our lives, or do we still delight in our own plans?
All through his many journeys Jacob, Israel, has grown to trust the Lord and to find his delight in doing the Lord’s will. Even in his dotage when he was almost ready to die, the Lord reveals that this new journey into Egypt is exactly what he needs. Jacob and his family willingly migrate into Egypt so that they can survive the worldwide famine and start over again in a new land. This exile is only possible because the Lord promises to bring Jacob and his descendants back to the Promised Land after Joseph has closed his eyes. The Lord loves Jacob and never forsakes his faithful one. Even his son, Joseph, the one he thought was dead, is returned to Jacob. Such a tender and tearful reunion, we witness in our first reading. “As soon as Joseph saw him, he flung himself on his neck and wept a long time in his arms.” The delight of his old age is fulfilled; all of his sons are alive and taking refuge in God’s plan for them. The more they delight in the Lord the more the Lord delights in them: “The Lord watches over the lives of the wholehearted; their inheritance lasts forever.”
The Lord Jesus forms the hearts of his Apostles for a future full of persecution and hatred. Who would want to continue following someone who promises only suffering? Who wants to carry the cross, much less love the cross? Like sheep in the midst of wolves do we stand a chance? We will survive only if we are shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. Like our ancestor Jacob who took full advantage of Esau’s lack of respect for his inheritance; we, too, must be shrewd as serpents. Like our ancestor Joseph who saw the hand of God at work in his being rejected and sold as a slave; we, too, must be simple as doves. Although we would never house doves with serpents, within each of our hearts we contain both the shrewd and the simple. These seemingly opposing characteristics will enable us to endure to the end, and we will be saved. Even today, when we are called to stand before the powers the world, we let the Spirit of our Father speak through us. We give a witness that is so simple and so shrewd that our opponents are silenced. Not only are we given such an attorney in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, we are also promised that the Son of Man will come before we have finished our testimony to the powers that be.