Friday, 14 July 2017

Saturday of Week 14 Year 1

Some people can be devious in their dealings with others. For example, they say they have put aside their differences with certain others, but in their hearts, they still hold a grudge or have not really forgiven or reconciled with the other. When opportunity strikes, they conveniently bring forth what had happened in the past to ridicule, condemn or even persecute the other, especially when the other is in an unfavourable or difficult situation. Could some of us be having such an attitude?

In today's reading, we are told: "Seeing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, ‘What if Joseph intends to treat us as enemies and repay us in full for all the wrong we did him?’ So they sent this message to Joseph: ‘Before your father died he gave us this order: “You must say to Joseph: Oh forgive your brothers their crime and their sin and all the wrong they did you.” Now therefore, we beg you, forgive the crime of the servants of your father’s God.’ Joseph wept at the message they sent to him. His brothers came themselves and fell down before him. ‘We present ourselves before you’ they said ‘as your slaves.’ But Joseph answered them, ‘Do not be afraid; is it for me to put myself in God’s place? The evil you planned to do me has by God’s design been turned to good, that he might bring about, as indeed he has, the deliverance of a numerous people. So you need not be afraid; I myself will provide for you and your dependants.’ In this way he reassured them with words that touched their hearts."

Joseph's brothers were worried that Joseph would use the past as an excuse to hit back at them or to have his revenge after what they had done to him, now that their father Jacob is dead. But as we can see from the reading, Joseph chose to forgive, reconcile and be merciful towards his brothers, instead of holding a grudge or looking for an opportunity to exact revenge. If we were in Joseph's shoes, if we were in his situation, would we be humble and willing to do the same, or would we still insist in an eye for an eye? Are we able to put to practice what we say: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us?"

Friday, 7 July 2017

Saturday of Week 13 Year 1

In some cultures, the male firstborn or older male sibling is often favoured upon and given better privileges and blessings. This is because the male firstborn was thought to be the leader and heir to the throne or family estate. We see many examples around us where the male firstborn is given special treatment and education, with the expectation that he would eventually take over from his father as patriach, leader of the tribe, or even king.

However, when it comes to God, the firstborn is not necessarily His choice to lead His people. One example of this could be found in today's reading, where Jacob, using wile and conniving ways, managed to trick his father into getting the inheritance and special blessing supposingly reserved for the firstborn. It certainly doesn’t seem fair that Jacob would get away with such trickery but he does, although the blessing certainly included a lot of suffering: He had to flee Esau who was bitter and vengeful, as a consequence of what he had done; He got married and ended up with a father-in-law who was just as bad or even worse a trickster than he was; He had to eventually face Esau. Yet, God works in mysterious ways, and even helped Jacob. Esau was the firstborn but he seemed to have no concern for spiritual matters, whereas Jacob was sneaky and a cheat, but God knew that he had within him what it took to be the leader of his people. The culture of the time said that Esau was the chosen one, but God chose Jacob instead.

This does not mean that God is encouraging any of us to become wile, crafty or tricky to achieve our ends, since His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts, and what He had allowed to take place is eventually for His purposes and His glory. May we surrender ourselves to God' plan, and let Him use our talents and abilities for His greater glory.