We continue the narrative of Joseph, and see things beginning to come around full circle as his brothers are forced to head to Egypt to obtain food during the famine. Joseph recognizes them, but they do not recognize him.
There seems to be an interesting parallel here to the breaking of bread and the road to Emaus, as an aside. The analogy breaks down quickly, but for that moment, the commonalities of bread (grain) and not recognizing one whom was rejected and is saving them jumped out at me.
Anyhow, Joseph tells them that they must return with their youngest brother, and keeps Simeon prisoner. I also really like Reuben's "I told you so" moment where he tells off his brothers.
Anyhow, Joseph has clearly forgiven his brothers in a way, since he doesn't charge them for their grain (in a sneaky way that freaks them out...priceless). At the same time, his plan is a little cruel, especially to his father...but in the end it will all work out.
Joseph has a special place in his heart for Benjamin because he is his full brother, but probably also because he played no part in his enslavement. Hopefully Benjamin had a hearty appetite...
I mentioned before that I do love the places where God is described as a protective force...here he is a stronghold and a shelter against evildoers. We also have a great hope laid before us...to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives...to offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, to sing and make melody to the Lord...to behold the beauty of the Lord.
This psalm's call to God to embrace us and not send us away calls to my mind also how God calls to us...He does not want us to send him away, or for our love of Him to fail. It is a covenant, after all...which means both parties hold up their end of the bargain. How beautiful is the covenant our God has with us...
Again, we have the Pharisees trying to trip up Jesus, and Jesus deftly turns it around into a teaching moment, calling out the Pharisees as hypocrites. It would seem that they were so legalistic that they would find loopholes, meeting the letter of the law while not meeting the spirit of the law.
We get a good reference back to Isaiah (This is Matthew, after all), and then a very important bit of teaching about what defiles a man. This is a great prefigurement of God lifting the prohibition against eating certain "unclean animals."
"Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man”…”Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man.”
Today, as Christians, we don’t wash our hands as part of a ritual prior to eating (rather as a matter of health), nor do we pay heed to the dietary restrictions of old. But we could all do with watching what comes out of our mouths from our hearts, I think. We are so quick to throw out insults to people when they can’t hear us…but God hears us. We are so quick to spread gossip and say bad things about our neighbors…even things that are true, but hurtful…and God hears us. We are so quick to say things, even to loved ones, in heated moments that truly defile us if we are supposed to be godly people. I witness this from my children as the speak to one another in rude tones and disrespectful words…and even find myself saying things in a manner that is not befitting the dignity of a beloved child of God.
Truly, once something is said, it can not be unsaid. We can regret them, apologize for them, and be forgiven…but better would it be if we treated others with gentleness and reverence at all times!
I love the fact that our Catechism utilizes poetic works to help convey truth. There is some lovely poetry here summing up the implications of faith in One God:
Let nothing trouble you
Let nothing frighten you
God never changes
Whoever has God
Wants for nothing
God alone is enough
- St. Teresa of Jesus
If we are truly faithful, we have an absolute trust in God in every circumstance. That’s hard to do sometimes, but oddly enough, whenever we put things in His hands completely, they seem to work out, don’t they?
I am also struck by paragraph 225, which states “It means knowing the unity and true dignity of all men: Everyone is made in the image and likeness of God.”
If we are to truly live our faith, we must stop seeing other people as “in our way” or “bothersome”, even the ones who truly may be…we must begin to see with the eyes of Christ, that they, too, are made in God’s image and likeness. When we do, we are at our most human, and therefore closest to God.
Readings for tomorrow: