July 15, 2017: Saturday, Week Fourteen
The Responsorial (Psalm 105) declares: “Turn to the Lord in your need and you will live.”
In Genesis 49:29 to 50:26 we see that what helps Joseph forgive his brothers is his awareness that God has used their sin against him to accomplish his purposes: “Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve his present end, the survival of many people.”
No matter what happens to us, we have to remember that what people do is never the last word. God is always in control. He does not want people to sin, and he does not want anyone to suffer. But as long as he respects people’s freedom, some will sin. And their sins will cause others to suffer.
In this, yes, God has given away some of his power. Once he created another being with free will, his own will was no longer absolute in the universe. When we say, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” this is a prayer, not a presumption. It will happen eventually, but we can’t say when.
Ultimately, however, God is in control. The reign of God will be established, and universal, mutual forgiveness is one of its constitutive elements: “Forgive us our offenses, while we forgive one another.” God will accomplish his plan even by turning evil into good, as he did with the sin of Joseph’s brothers. Knowing this helps us to forgive. We know that, whatever people do — even if they kill us! — God will take care of us: “Turn to the Lord in your need and you will live.”
The story also shows us the form forgiveness takes: Joseph says to his brothers, “Have no fear. I will provide for you and for your children.” To forgive is to love. To love is to minister. Forgiveness consists, not in feeling reconciled with others, but in choosing to help them.
In Matthew 10: 24-33 Jesus applies the same principle to fear. “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…. Not a single sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent…. So do not be afraid of anything. You are worth more than an entire flock of sparrows!”
This motivates us when we are afraid to give expression to our faith, hope and love. Self-exposure makes us vulnerable. It is a risk to reveal our hearts. But Jesus says, “Do not be afraid. Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” We look not to the immediate reality of people’s reaction on earth, but to the ultimate reality of God’s response to us in heaven. In the light of that response, we have nothing to fear from anyone: “Turn to the Lord in your need and you will live.”
Initiative: Be a priest. Look to God beyond what is apparent on earth.