Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, July 13, 2017 — The kingship of God is fully present in him. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent him.

Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 386

Image may contain: 1 person

Art: Joseph sold by his brothers into slavery into Egypt — Upon his return: “I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt.
But now do not be afraid.”

Reading 1 GN 44:18-21, 23B-29; 45:1-5

Judah approached Joseph and said: “I beg you, my lord,
let your servant speak earnestly to my lord,
and do not become angry with your servant,
for you are the equal of Pharaoh.
My lord asked your servants, ‘Have you a father, or another brother?’
So we said to my lord, ‘We have an aged father,
and a young brother, the child of his old age.
This one’s full brother is dead,
and since he is the only one by that mother who is left,
his father dotes on him.’
Then you told your servants,
‘Bring him down to me that my eyes may look on him.
Unless your youngest brother comes back with you,
you shall not come into my presence again.’
When we returned to your servant our father,
we reported to him the words of my lord.

“Later, our father told us to come back and buy some food for the family.
So we reminded him, ‘We cannot go down there;
only if our youngest brother is with us can we go,
for we may not see the man if our youngest brother is not with us.’
Then your servant our father said to us,
‘As you know, my wife bore me two sons.
One of them, however, disappeared, and I had to conclude
that he must have been torn to pieces by wild beasts;
I have not seen him since.
If you now take this one away from me, too,
and some disaster befalls him,
you will send my white head down to the nether world in grief.'”

Joseph could no longer control himself
in the presence of all his attendants,
so he cried out, “Have everyone withdraw from me!”
Thus no one else was about when he made himself known to his brothers.
But his sobs were so loud that the Egyptians heard him,
and so the news reached Pharaoh’s palace.
“I am Joseph,” he said to his brothers.
“Is my father still in good health?”
But his brothers could give him no answer,
so dumbfounded were they at him.

“Come closer to me,” he told his brothers.
When they had done so, he said:
“I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt.
But now do not be distressed,
and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here.
It was really for the sake of saving lives
that God sent me here ahead of you.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21

R. (5a) Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
or:
R. Alleluia.
When the LORD called down a famine on the land
and ruined the crop that sustained them,
He sent a man before them,
Joseph, sold as a slave.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
or:
R. Alleluia.
They had weighed him down with fetters,
and he was bound with chains,
Till his prediction came to pass
and the word of the LORD proved him true.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The king sent and released him,
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
He made him lord of his house
and ruler of all his possessions.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaMK 1:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand:
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 10:7-15

Jesus said to his Apostles:
“As you go, make this proclamation:
‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.
Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts;
no sack for the journey, or a second tunic,
or sandals, or walking stick.
The laborer deserves his keep.
Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it,
and stay there until you leave.
As you enter a house, wish it peace.
If the house is worthy,
let your peace come upon it;
if not, let your peace return to you.
Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—
go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.
Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable
for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment
than for that town.”

.

****************************************

.
Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
.
13 JULY, 2017, Thursday, 14th Week, Ordinary Time
LETTING GO OF OLD SCORES

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Gn 44:18-21,23-2945:1-5Ps 104:16-21Mt 10:7-15  ]

All of us have been betrayed at some time in our lives by our loved ones, our family members, friends, priests and religious.  It is already difficult to bear the pain of betrayal, much more that which comes from people who are closest to us.  When that happens, it is even more difficult to forgive them.  We can ignore our enemies and cut them off from our lives and have nothing more to do with them.  But with our loved ones, even if we try, we cannot let go completely.  The anger, resentment and pain in our hearts will stay with us until death!

If we have experienced betrayed, then we can empathize with Joseph in the first reading.  He was almost put to death by his brothers because of sibling rivalry and jealousy.   Eventually, he was sold as a slave.  Initially, Joseph had a hard time.  He was bought by the officials of Pharoah but was subsequently thrown into prison because he was framed by the master’s wife who did not get what she wanted from Joseph.  So we can be sure that Joseph went through a hard time.  He must have harboured anger at his brothers and worried to death about the well-being of his beloved father.  And so when he saw his brothers coming to buy grain in Egypt, he thought it was an occasion to teach them a lesson.

Yet eventually, he let go of his grievances.  How did he do it?  He saw the big picture!  When we are hurt and unjustly treated it is natural for us to focus on our pain and on the negative event, forgetting the larger picture of life.   What we need to do is to see our pain in perspective and not narrowly.   If only we open our eyes to the other aspects of our life and look at those who have hurt us and how we have grown from such unpleasant events, we will find it easier to let go.

In the first place, Joseph recognized that they were his brothers. “Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come closer to me.’ When they had come closer to him he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph whom you sold into Egypt.’”  The letter of Hebrews also said the same thing about Jesus.  “For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, ‘I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.’”  (Heb 2:11b-12)  Truly, blood is thicker than water.  There is a soul tie with those who are our blood relatives, whether we want to admit it or not.  We might try to deny the truth but we know that deep in our hearts, when we are alienated or estranged from our loved ones, we feel sad.  In the depths of our hearts, we desire reconciliation and union.  There will be no peace till we are reunited with them.

Secondly, Joseph understood that all things happened for his good.  He told them, “But now, do not grieve, do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here, since God sent me before you to preserve your lives.”   In a similar vein, St Paul wrote, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”  (Rom 8:28)   God writes straight in crooked lines.  We must trust that He will never allow anything to destroy us.  He will bring grace out of disgrace.  That was what He did for Joseph and our Lord Jesus Christ. Only when we look back on hindsight can we see the marvelous plan of God.  What was apparently a curse and setback for Joseph became the means by which he would become the ruler of Egypt after Pharaoh.  Whether it was his being sold as a slave or framed by the master’s wife for sexual harassment, and then thrown into prison, it was all for his good so that he could one day have access to Pharaoh and earn his trust and confidence.  So it was a blessing in disguise.

Thirdly, Joseph forgave his brothers out of love for his father.  We read that he finally let go of his hurts when he heard the pain and grief of his father’s love for all his children.  “You know that my wife bore me two children.  When one left me, I said that he must have been torn to pieces.  And I have not seen him to this day.  If you take this one from me too and any harm comes to him, you will send me down to Sheol with my white head bowed in misery.”  So too, Jesus came to die for us because of His love for His Father who loves us all.  He came to save us because of His love for His Father.  Jesus said, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.  For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”  (Jn 10:16-18)  For the greater love of someone, we will find the strength to let go of our pain and hurts.  How true it is that often, siblings are reconciled at their parents’ deathbed, or because of their parents.  When they see their parents suffering because of their separation, they make a decision to let go of the past and be reconciled.  This is also true sometimes of parents who are on the verge of divorce, but because of the children, made a decision to work out the marriage together.

Fourthly, in our pain, we must never forget the blessings that God comes to give us in other ways.  Too often, we just focus on our needs and hurts and forget that there are many other blessings which we have taken for granted.  Joseph remembered how the Lord stood by him in his trials.  The responsorial psalm says, “Remember the wonders the Lord has done. His feet were put in chains, his neck was bound with iron, until what he said came to pass and the word of the Lord proved him true. Then the king sent and released him the ruler of the people set him free, making him master of his house and ruler of all he possessed.”  In the gospel, Jesus reminds us, “You received without charge, give without charge.”  Since God has been good to us, we must also extend His blessings to others and not keep them to ourselves.  And His blessings must be given to all, including our enemies.  “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”  (Mt 5:44f)

Fifthly, let us never forget that we are called to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.  “As you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.  Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils.”   Indeed, we are called to heal and to set our prisoners free, especially those who hate us and those who have hurt us.  We must show ourselves to be unlike them.  We do not retaliate, for that would make us no better than them.  Jesus said, “But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.”  (Mt 5:39-41)

In the final analysis, God provides and He is in control.  He said, “Provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with a few coppers for your purses, with no haversack for the journey or spare tunic or footwear or a staff, for the workman deserves his keep.”  We are called to rely on Him alone.  It is not our work.   Let Him be the judge.  Let us do what we can and surrender the rest to him.  There is no need to be angry with those who are not responsive to our love and overtures.  This is what the Lord said, “Whatever town or village you go into, ask for someone trustworthy and stay with him until you leave.  As you enter his house, salute it, and if the house deserves it, let your peace descend upon it; if it does not, let your peace come back to you.  And if anyone does not welcome you or listen to what you have to say, as you walk out of the house or town shake the dust from your feet.  I tell you solemnly, on the day of Judgement it will not go as hard with the land of Sodom and Gomorrah as with that town.”  So we must trust in the Lord by letting go of our past hurts so that we can use our wounds to heal those who are hurt and unable to see the light.


Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

.
.
*******************************************

Commentary on Matthew 10:7-15 from Living Space

We continue the apostolic discourse of Jesus to his disciples.

Jesus now instructs them on what they are to say and do. They are to proclaim that the kingship of God is close at hand. This, of course, is true because of the presence and work of Jesus. Jesus is himself the very embodiment of the Kingdom, he is the ultimate Kingdom person. The kingship of God is fully present in him. But it will also be present in the Twelve who will do the same things that Jesus is doing: curing the sick, raising the dead, healing lepers, liberating people from evil spirits. Later, we will see the apostles doing all these things in the Acts of the Apostles and the Church continues to do these things.

Today, all of us are called to proclaim the kingship, the lordship of God by our words, actions and lifestyle. The Church is still called to bring healing into people’s lives. We may not raise people literally from the dead; but there many who are virtually dead, though physically alive, and who need to be brought back to a fully human life.

Most of our societies today do not have lepers but we have, in every society, people who are marginalised and pushed out to the fringes. They need to be reintegrated.

There may be people in some places who are genuinely in the possession of evil spirits but there are far more who are in the grip of more mundane demons such as nicotine, alcohol and other drugs, who are caught up in the materialism, consumerism, hedonism and sexism of our time. They too need to be liberated.

Yes, there is a lot of work to be done – each one of us in our own way and in accordance with our gifts and life situation.

Jesus also tells his disciples to travel light. They are not to charge for their service. They are not to find their security in the possession of material things, especially money. To increase their freedom, they should go around with the absolute minimum. In our lives, possessions and our concern about them can be very inhibiting.

Of course, what Jesus does expect is that each person working for the Kingdom has his needs looked after by those he serves. This is where his security lies: in being sure of a place to sleep and food to eat. In return, the missionary brings the Lord’s peace to any home that offers hospitality. This is a vision of a society which is hard to find in our own day, although it is lived in varying degrees of commitment by religious in the Catholic Church and by some followers of other religions like Hinduism and Buddhism.

Mother Teresa’s Sisters come pretty close to the Gospel vision as do the Little Sisters/Brothers of Charles de Foucauld. And that is really the meaning of the second half of today’s passage. Mother Teresa once said: “I do own things but they do not own me.” That is where she differed from so many of us.

Jesus expects that the missionary to find a place to stay wherever he goes. And, once he finds one, he should stay there; he is not to be moving around looking for more desirable conditions. On the other hand, Jesus has hard words for those who refuse hospitality to his messengers. Shaking the dust from one’s feet was symbolical. The dust of any Gentile country was regarded as unclean. By implication so was the dust of an inhospitable home. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah will get off more lightly. (In the Middle East hospitality has always been important. Unfortunately, in our security-conscious urban Western world, it does not flourish. Largely, because of those unnecessary possessions which Jesus would liberate us from.)

There are two things for us to reflect on today:

First, where is our security? Are we burdened down by the things we own? Are we owned by them? How free are we to live a fully Christian life as envisioned by the Gospel? How free are we to do the things that Jesus says we should be doing: bringing healing and wholeness into people’s lives?

Secondly, what kind of hospitality do we give to those – whoever they are – who are generously doing the Lord’s work? Or, if they are not Christians, who are doing the work of the Kingdom?

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2145g/

*****************************************

It May Be Time We Shake The Dust From Our Feet

By Jennifer LeClaire

“Shake the dust off your feet.” I wasn’t really surprised when I heard the Holy Spirit say those six words—but when I read the Scripture in context it sent me into intercession for the ones who rejected the word of the Lord.

The sad story begins in a local church where I was serving on the pastoral staff. The church’s works were good, reaching out to the poor with food, clothing and shelter. The pastor’s sermons were not theologically deep, but they were biblically sound.

Indeed, from the outside looking in it looked like an up and coming church that was really being the church. It was a breath of fresh air. Soon enough, I discerned spirit of compromise invading the hearts of leadership. Decision after decision was made to please man rather than please God. I knew these man-pleasing decisions would eventually erode the truth of the gospel in that local body. I just didn’t realize it would be so soon.

The Sin of Compromise

Over the course of a year, I gently but directly pointed out areas of compromise. The senior pastor tolerated a woman with a spirit of Jezebel wreaking havoc in the church. He frequently attended “rock star” megachurch conferences and brought the seeker-friendly principles he learned back to the congregation. He refused to confront sin of all sorts, from adultery to homosexuality and beyond. Over the course of a year, my prophetic words of warning were pooh-poohed time and time again. I was told, in subtle terms, that I was missing God’s heart in these matters.

The day finally came when the compromise was so blatant that it sent me into weeping and travails for the church. After consulting with ministers more experienced and wiser than me, I boldly confronted the growing cancer in love with Scriptural backing that could not be denied. But the prophetic correction was once again rejected. And not only rejected, I was actually held in contempt for speaking the gospel truth in a Spirit-filled Christian church! And that’s when the Holy Spirit told me to shake the dust from my feet.

Let’s look at the Scripture: “Whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet” (Matt. 10:14). So what does it mean to shake the dust off your feet? I’ve heard that Scripture many, many times but I had never studied it out until the Holy Spirit gave me the personal instruction.

Why Shake the Dust Off?

With regard to this verse, Matthew Henry’s Commentary suggests, “At their departure they must shake off the dust of their feet. In detestation of their wickedness; it was so abominable, that it did even pollute the ground they went upon, which must therefore be shaken off as a filthy thing. The apostles must have no fellowship nor communion with them; must not so much as carry away the dust of their city with them.”

That sounds hard-core but it’s reality. David Wilkerson used to say a “diluted gospel is no gospel at all.” A diluted gospel willfully allows compromise. A diluted gospel refuses to confront sin. A diluted gospel seeks to please man at the sake of grieving God. A diluted gospel tolerates Jezebel. A diluted gospel makes you feel good even when you won’t repent. A diluted gospel is powerless. A diluted gospel is no gospel at all.

Henry continues his commentary on shaking the dust off your feet, “It was to signify, that they were base and vile as dust, and that God would shake them off. The dust of the apostles’ feet, which they left behind them, would witness against them, and be brought in as evidence, that the gospel had been preached to them, Mark 6:11; Jas. 5:3. … They who despise God and His gospel shall be lightly esteemed.”

In Matt. 10:15, Jesus actually said it would be more tolerable in the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for the city that rejects the gospel. Woah! And that’s what sent me into intercession for the pastors that would not receive the gospel truth the Lord had me to deliver in slow and steady drips over the course of a year.

The reality is that a little compromise opens the door for a great compromise. Pastors who tolerate Jezebel will meet with a strong rebuke from Jesus (Rev. 2:20). Pastors who propagate a seeker-friendly gospel that makes people comfortable in their sin will have to give an answer on Judgment Day. Pastors who refuse to preach the gospel to sinners for fear of offending them will be held accountable.

Sometimes we have to shake the dust off our feet and even shake out our garments (Acts 13:51; Acts 18:6). But before we do we must have a clear conscience. We must do everything we can to reach those God sends us to. We must not leave with self-righteousness or anger but with weeping and intercession for those who refuse to hear God’s truth. Only then can we say “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean” (Acts 18:6). Amen.

.
Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including The Spiritual Warrior’s Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can email Jennifer at jennifer.leclaire@charismamedia.com or visit her website hereYou can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/18155-knowing-when-it-s-time-to-shake-the-dust-off-your-feet

.

********************************************

.
Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
.
07 JULY 2016, Thursday, 14th Week in Ordinary Time
ELEMENTS FOR A RENEWED EVANGELIZATION

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ HOS 11:1-4. 8-9; MT 10:7-15  ]

What is the greatest obstacle to the Church and her mission today?  It is secularization.  This is such an insidious trend because it is not just excluding God from public life but it is also an onslaught on the very core of the Church, her own members.  As a consequence, many are losing faith in God.  With a weakening faith, we also have a faint sense and urgency of mission.

Yet there is a glimpse of hope in the midst of the dark shadows of our current time.  The hunger and thirst for meaning, everlasting love and authentic life in the secularized world create a great opportunity for us in the work of the New Evangelization.  As Pope Emeritus Benedict remarked, “Not only is there physical hunger, there is also a more profound hunger which only God can satisfy. Man in the third millennium also seeks an authentic and full life; he needs truth, profound freedom and gratuitous love. Even in the deserts of the secularised world man’s soul thirsts for God, for the living God”.  Ironically what appears to be our greatest threat is also the springboard for a renewed evangelization.  How is that so?

We must first begin by inquiring into the rise of secularization.  The first factor is the experience of the absence of God.  In a world of technology where God is relied upon less and less to solve the problems of the world, God has become redundant in our lives.  So much so, His existence and presence is no longer needed or felt.  He is not seen or spoken of.  In the hearts of many, God is dead.

Secondly, even if one were to admit that He exists; He is deemed to be distant and cannot do much for us.  In the face of global catastrophes, or even in our own personal tragedies, this God seems helpless and indifferent.  He does not appear to love us; He cannot hear our prayers or does not answer them.  What, then, would be the necessary elements for a renewed evangelization?

Firstly, we need to establish the Lordship of Christ.   That is what Jesus asked of us when He instructed the Twelve as follows: “As you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.”  To claim that the reign of God is here, it means to declare our faith that God is still present in the world and that in spite of all contradictions, He is very much in charge of the world and nothing will destroy His plan of salvation for humanity and the cosmos.  Proclaiming the Lordship of Christ is the antidote to a world where God is banished from public life.

Secondly, we need to proclaim the love and mercy of God as a reality in this world and concretely in our lives. The prophet Hosea in the first reading described the love of God for His people in very concrete terms when He said, “I myself taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in my arms; yet they have not understood that I was the one looking after them. I led with reins of kindness, with leading-strings of love.”   So intense is God’s love for us that in His mercy He remembers His tender love for us, “…like someone who lifts an infant close against his cheek; stooping down to him I gave him his food.  My heart recoils from it, my whole being trembles at the thought.”

But this proclamation of the Lordship of Christ and His love cannot be mere words alone.  This proclamation must be matched with deeds.  Yes, in a world where emphasis is given to personal experience, we need to demonstrate the reality of God’s Lordship and His love in our world and in our lives.

How, then, is the Lordship of Christ proclaimed today?  As it was in the time of Jesus, He has given us the authority to cast out devils and the evil spirits and to denounce the reign of Satan, the reign of sin: “As you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.  Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils.”  Isn’t raising the dead an act that only God can do and not any human being by his own power?

The counsel of poverty and total dependence on the Lord affirms the efficacy of the mission as one that is accomplished by the power of God, not the ingenuity of man. That was why Jesus told the apostles to observe poverty when He said, “provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with a few coppers for your purses, with no haversack for the journey or spare tunic or footwear or a staff, for the workman deserves his keep.”  God will provide.  If the preacher of the gospel does not believe that He will provide, the proclamation of God’s providential love for us and His Lordship would be called to question.

But not only is it sufficient to proclaim His Lordship, we must also manifest His Lordship over us by ourworks of healing and mercy.  This accounts for the necessity of proclamation to be followed by works of healing, as Jesus authorized us to do.  This love and mercy of God is proclaimed through forgiveness, symbolized by the healing of lepers and the healing miracles.  As Christians, we must continue to express our faith in God and mediate God’s love through works of charity, besides offering prayers of faith for healing and reconciliation.

This offer of the Good News must be given freely as an invitation.  This is what Jesus reminded the apostles, “You received without charge, give without charge.”  Christ and the Good News must be offered as a gift to others.  It cannot be imposed on others.  We must first receive this gift of Jesus as theunconditional love of God before we can give it to others.  This is the pre-requisite in the work of evangelization, hence the urgency of being first renewed in the faith or be re-evangelized.

However, the consequence of reception or rejection of the gift is beyond compare.  For those who receive the message of salvation, they will find peace, as Jesus assured us, “As you enter his house, salute it, and if the house deserves it, let your peace descend upon it; if it does not, let your peace come back to you.”

For those who reject His love and mercy, the consequences are dire.  This is the intent of Jesus’ saying that “if anyone does not welcome you or listen to what you have to say, as you walk out of the house or town shake the dust from your feet.  I tell you solemnly, on the day of Judgement it will not go as hard with the land of Sodom and Gomorrah as with that town.”  Such a warning does not contradict God’s unconditional love and mercy when He said, “I will not give rein to my fierce anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again, for I am God, not man: I am the Holy One in your midst and have no wish to destroy.” The rejection is on our part.  We forfeit what is given to us.  The shaking of dust from our feet is to disclaim that once we have proclaimed the Good News, the responsibility now rests on the listeners.

.
Written by The Most Rev William Goh
Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: