I will provide for you and for your children

Memorial of Saint Bonaventure

As I sit with today’s readings I begin think about the right order of things: having a proper order of ourselves in relation to God, the temporal in relation to the eternal, ourselves in relation to our siblings (blood or through Christ), and even the place of suffering and trials during this fleeting life.

During his homily at Mass, my priest, taking his queue from the OT reading, emphasized peace among siblings, but I can’t help think about the case of Charlie Gard, where the right order of things seems to be, well, squished. We have doctors, hospital administrators, British judges, and EU judges, people in positions of power (and responsibility) overreaching their authority and denying a baby and his parents their rights—a problem we will see more and more of as people misunderstand “separation of church and state” and who, not understanding their true place, fail to ask as our patriarch Joseph did, “can I take the place of God?” Rather, they try to do just that. And in doing so, don’t say “I will provide for you and for your child.”

In the Gospel reading, Jesus is clear about several things:

  • if we follow him as disciples, we can expect to suffer as he did.
  • we ought to trust in the Father’s love and care and know our value.
  • we ought not fear men or any harm they may try to do or even successfully carry out, but to fear God, who made us and knows every hair on our head.
  • if we acknowledge Jesus, Son of God, before men, Jesus will acknowledge us before his Father in Heaven.

As we know from the book of Genesis, Joseph, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham and Sarah, suffered at the hands of his jealous brothers. He was almost killed, but after a plea by his eldest brother Reuben, Joseph was sold into slavery and taken down to Egypt. What not just man (but flesh and blood) planned for evil, God turned into a good for Joseph, and a life-saving blessing on those who wronged Joseph. Full of the gift of fear of the Lord, Joseph knows his place and understands his responsibility and accountability to God. He forgives and extends mercy to his brothers.

Joseph was wronged also while he was in Egypt. He lost his position, was thrown unjustly into jail, and then left there, forgotten by the one he helped set free. But Joseph endured his trial patiently and with trust, because he knew God. When we know who God is and who we are, we can joyfully sing Psalm 105 and to be glad, no matter how lowly we are.

As Pope Emeritus Benedict said recently when he met Pope Francis’ five newly elected cardinals: The Lord wins in the end. May the Lord also win your heart!

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Genesis 49

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: 105

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. Be glad you lowly ones; may your hearts be glad!

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. Be glad you lowly ones; may your hearts be glad!

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. Be glad you lowly ones; may your hearts be glad!

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.”

Questions of the Day

  • Can I take the place of God?
  • Who is master of your household?

Prayer of the Day

In honor of our God-fearing and merciful patriarch Joseph featured in the OT reading, I chose a selection of prayers to Saint Joseph, foster father of Jesus. And I chose these also because of the good St. Joseph has done for me in obtaining a great calm and peace of soul which has managed to conquer my easily agitated human nature and passionate and impulsive self!

Consecration to Saint Joseph

O, my beloved St. Joseph, adopt me as thy child, take care of my salvation, watch over me day and night, preserve me from the occasion of sin, obtain for me purity of soul and body! Through thy intercession with Jesus, grant me a spirit of sacrifice, of humility and self-denial, a burning love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and a sweet tender love for Mary, my mother. St. Joseph, be with me living, be with me dying, and obtain for me a favorable judgment from Jesus, my merciful Savior. Amen.

Prayer to St. Joseph by Pope St. Pius X

O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance and expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work; above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes death and the account I have to render of time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all to imitate thee, O Patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity. Amen.

Intercession of St. Joseph, most loving of fathers and patron of departing souls

Oh St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, so that having engaged here below your heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most loving of fathers. Oh St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.

Holy Cloak Novena