Homilette for Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Genesis 44.18-21.23b-29.45:1-5; Matthew 10:7-15)

The appeal of Joseph’s story lies both in its parallel to the gospel and in its mirroring a perennial human situation. To indicate his favor for Joseph, Jacob clothes him royally. Out of envy his brothers plot to get rid of him. God, however, intervenes so that Joseph might save the family from ruin once the drought arrives. The Christ story follows a similar course. God has indicated his favor on Jesus by empowering him to do mighty deeds. Out of jealousy for his winning the favor of the people, the Jewish leaders with the Roman authority – a conspiracy indicative of the whole world -- have Jesus executed. But God steps in again to raise Jesus from the dead so that he might be the source of the world’s salvation.

Many years ago a popular song sounded a like note of betrayal between loved ones. “You always hurt the one you love,” the lyrics read, “the one you should not hurt at all.” In a world marked by human failure our first and most grieved victims are often the very people with whom we live under the same roof. Perhaps we utter harsh words or belittle a significant effort made by a loved one in order to distance ourselves from him. But the song ends on a note of reconciliation. The narrator can tell her loved one that she loves him most of all. Just so, Joseph is reconciled to his brothers, and God adopts us into His family with the forgiveness of our sins. It should be pointed out that this benign result requires both God’s grace and human acceptance of the divine favor.

Homilette for Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Genesis 41:55-57.42:5-7a.17-24a; Matthew 10:1-7)

Matthew begins his gospel with a list of names tracing the lineage of Jesus. He starts with Abraham, the exemplar of faith, and ends with Jesus, the savior of the world. He mentions only a few women in the line because they lived in extraordinary circumstances – like Rahab and Ruth, both foreigners who become heroines as well as ancestors of Jesus. Reading the lineage, we get the idea that God is directing the process that will eventuate in the birth of His son.

In today’s gospel Matthew provides another list of names. In a way these men compose a counter to those of the previous list. As the Old Testament figures lead up to Jesus, they will carry Jesus’ name to the world as his apostles. In another sense, however, they are similar to the Jesus’ ancestors. They seem to be an extraordinarily unlikely group to carry out the work of growing an institution. Once again we have a sense of God directing the process.

We should see ourselves as part of still another list of people connected to Jesus with similarities to the ones already mentioned. As the first group comprised Jesus’ ancestors, we are his spiritual descendants. And like the apostles we are called by Jesus to give growth to the Church by caring for one another and by professing Jesus’ name wherever we go.