First Reading: Genesis 44:18-21, 23-29; 45:1-5
Then Judah went up to him and said, "O my lord, let your servant, I pray you, speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not your anger burn against your servant; for you are like Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, saying, `Have you a father, or a brother?' And we said to my lord, `We have a father, an old man, and a young brother, the child of his old age; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother's children; and his father loves him.' Then you said to your servants, `Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes upon him.' Then you said to your servants, `Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall see my face no more.' When we went back to your servant my father we told him the words of my lord. And when our father said, `Go again, buy us a little food,' we said, `We cannot go down. If our youngest brother goes with us, then we will go down; for we cannot see the man's face unless our youngest brother is with us.' Then your servant my father said to us, `You know that my wife bore me two sons; one left me, and I said, Surely he has been torn to pieces; and I have never seen him since. If you take this one also from me, and harm befalls him, you will bring down my gray hairs in sorrow to Sheol.' Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him; and he cried, "Make every one go out from me." So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph; is my father still alive?" But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So Joseph said to his brothers, "Come near to me, I pray you." And they came near. And he said, "I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 105:16-21
When he summoned a famine on the land, and broke every staff of bread, he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters, his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass the word of the LORD tested him. 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,
Gospel: Matthew 10:7-15
And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay. Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. As you enter the house, salute it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomor'rah than for that town.
Today's Gospel has a wonderful zen ring to it. We are to go out into the world without a backup plan, and be at peace if we are not listened to, carrying the word of the Lord and being ready to assist in miracles. I'd love to assist in miracles! But I do not want to venture out there without my iPhone, GPS, and a first-aid kit. And when someone doesn't heed my evangelization, I'd like to give them a piece of my mind.
In essence, what I take from this reading for my own life, is to live a life of evangelizing, trust that God will provide, and not to fret about what others choose. Ultimately, we all will choose our own closeness or distance from God. God is the judge and the arbitrator. I'm a messenger. That role is hefty enough. I am responsible for me and mine, not what everybody else and their mother does with the message I'm trying to live out.
Evangelizing will look as differently played out in our lives as our lives are different. My husband at the law firm, my brother in the army, my sister at the nursing home, all are living out the Truth and showing God's love and preaching the Gospel through their actions: their kindnesses and charities, their patience and their tolerance, their swallowing of frustrations and acceptances of incompetence.
God's provision in our lives is frightening for me, a big-time planner. To truly not pack emotional extra, to truly be open to being shaped by grace, to truly accept that I'm not in control as fully as I dream I can be, all serve to break down my veneer of planning ahead.
Lastly, I struggle with letting God's message come through me without clutching on to those around me and wanting to will them into following His word. To trust that people will choose love and light or not, according to where they are on their journey: yikes! Can't I make them believe and make them come along on my journey? Simply put, no. If your peace is returned, accept it, say a prayer, and let it go.
The original shake-it-off? Christ's instructions on being an evangelizer are doable for us today.
Nell O'Leary is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom to three lovelies. She and her husband live in the great city of Saint Paul. You can find out more about her here.