Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday word, 13 Jul 2007

14th Friday of the Year (13 Jul 2007) Gn 46. 1-7,28-30; Ps 37; Mt 10. 16-23
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Allowing Ears To Hear

Israel set out with all that was his, opened the first reading. Like Abraham and Isaac, his grandfather and father, Israel-Jacob was a pilgrim. But did he really set out with all that was his? The last line of the reading suggests not. After their tearful reunion north of the Pyramids, Israel said to Joseph, “At last I can die, now that I have seen for myself that Joseph is still alive.” Possessions were not worth Israel’s life, but his son, Joseph, was.

When the new Joseph, Jesus, sent his disciples on mission he prevented them from depending on possessions. Possessions could not empower them to announce the gospel of God’s reign.

Announcing that gospel was risky. Jesus was candid about the trials they would face for confessing faith in him. With courtroom imagery Jesus promised them their defending attorney, his holy Spirit. Indeed they would give voice to God’s speech as they confessed their “guilt,” that is, their faith in Jesus.

Their human speech would be inseparable from divine speech. To make this spirited testimony is the reason Jesus sent and continues to send his disciples like sheep in the midst of wolves.

The concern of these trial situations is whether the defendants give voice to the word of God, which ears cannot hear.

We are more comfortable than they because of our freedom to profess our faith. So the question for us is: how do we give God’s word voice? Do we stop at voicing our own needs, one thing Jesus taught us to do in prayer?

Jesus message is about the cross, which he would model with his life. An ever-deepening friendship with Jesus includes making his cross real in contemporary crosses, so that each of us can grow more confident in his Spirit defending us. Our reunions with Jesus often move us to tears. Tears remind us that we feel deeply the joy of his life alive in us for the sake of our world.

I am indebted to Paul S. Minear, Winkley Professor Emeritus of Biblical Theology, The Divinity School, Yale University, for helping me appreciate the role of Holy Spirit as “attorney for the defense.” Professor Minear died this year.
Wiki-image of Joseph revealing himself to his brothers is in the public domain.

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