GENESIS 44: 18 – 21, 23b – 29; 45: 1 – 5
In those days: Judah went up to Joseph and said, “O my lord, let your servant, I beg 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 heal one 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. 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 grey 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 beg 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.”
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 105: 16 – 17, 18 – 19, 20 – 21 (R.) 5a
R/. Remember the wonders the Lord has done.
But he called down a famine on the land;
he broke their staff of bread.
He had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, sold as a slave. R/.
His feet were weighed down in chains,
His neck was bound with iron,
Until what he said came to pass,
and the word of the Lord proved him true. R/.
Then the king sent orders and released him;
The ruler of the peoples set him free.
He made him master of his house
And ruler of all his possessions. R/.
Mark 1: 15
The kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel.
“You received without pay, give without pay.”
MATTHEW 10: 7 – 15
At that time: Jesus said to his apostles, “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 pay, 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 labourer 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 judgement for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: Soften Your Heart
July 13, 2023
“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.” (Matthew 10:14–15)
Recall how Jesus harshly condemned the Pharisees for their hardness of heart. In Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 23, Jesus issues seven “woe to you” condemnations of these Pharisees for being hypocrites and blind guides. These condemnations were acts of love on Jesus’ part, in that they had the goal of calling them to conversion. Similarly, in today’s Gospel, Jesus gives instructions to His Twelve about what they are to do if they preach the Gospel in a town and are rejected. They are to “shake the dust” from their feet.
This instruction was given within the context of Jesus sending the Twelve to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” with the commission of preaching the Gospel. At that time, they were to go to those who had already been entrusted with the message of the Law of Moses and the prophets but were to now proclaim that the Kingdom of God has arrived. Jesus was the promised Messiah, and He was now here. And for those of the house of Israel who reject Jesus, they were to be condemned by this prophetic act of the wiping of the dust of their town from the Apostles’ feet.
At first, this can seem somewhat harsh. One can think that patience, ongoing discussions, gentleness and the like would be more effective. And though that may be the case in many of our experiences today, the fact remains that Jesus gave the Twelve this command.
Just like the condemnation of the Pharisees, this prophetic action of wiping the dust from their feet was an act of love. Certainly, the Apostles were not to do this out of an irrational anger. They were not to do so because their pride was wounded by rejection or because of their disdain for these people. Rather, the Apostles were to do so as a way of showing the consequences of the townspeople’s actions. When these towns of the chosen people rejected the promised Messiah, they needed to understand the consequences. They needed to know that by rejecting the messengers, they were rejecting the saving grace of the Gospel.
First of all, it’s important to consider those about whom Jesus was speaking. He was speaking about those who “will not receive” nor even “listen” to the message of the Gospel. These are those who have fully rejected God and His saving message. They, by their free choice, have separated themselves from God and His holy Gospel. They are stubborn, obstinate and hard of heart. Thus, it is in this most extreme case, of being completely closed to the Gospel, that Jesus instructs His Apostles to leave with this prophetic act. Perhaps upon seeing this done, some people would experience a certain sense of loss. Perhaps some would realize they made a mistake. Perhaps some would experience a holy sense of guilt and would eventually soften their hearts.
This teaching of Jesus should also open your eyes. How fully do you receive and listen to the message of the Gospel? How attentive are you to the saving proclamation of God’s Kingdom? To the extent that you are open, the floodgates of God’s mercy flows forth. But to the extent that you are not, the experience of loss is encountered.
Reflect, today, upon your being present in one of these towns. Consider the many ways that you have been closed to all that God wants to speak to you. Open your heart wide, listen with the utmost attentiveness, be humble before the message of the Gospel and be ready to receive it and to change your life as you do. Commit to being a member of the Kingdom of God so that all that God speaks to you will have a transforming effect upon your life.
My compassionate Lord, Your firmness and chastisements are an act of Your utmost mercy for those who are hard of heart. Please soften my heart, dear Lord, and when I am stubborn and closed, please rebuke me in Your great love so that I will always turn back to You and Your saving message with all my heart. Jesus, I trust in You.