July 15, 2013


Readings at Mass: Monday of 15th Week of Ordinary Time

> Exodus 1:8-14,22
Psalm 124:1b-34-6,7-8

Ever wonder how the people of Israel became enslaved to the Egyptians? After all ... we know the story of Abraham before the slavery ... and we know of the story of Moses after the slavery. But, how did it happen? When did it happen? Well, welcome to today's first reading at Mass.

Here's a lighting fast recap. Abraham is picked by God to be the father of nations. Abraham gives birth to Isaac and Isaac gives birth to two sons: Esau and Jacob. Jacob eventually wrestles with God Himself and is renamed Israel (thus, the name of the nation), which means "He who struggles with God". Jacob has twelve sons (who will eventually be the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel). The eleventh of the sons was Joseph. Because his brothers were jealous of him, Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers ... and, you got it, he was eventually in the possession of the Egyptians. Because Joseph was anointed by God with the power to interpret dreams, Joseph rose to power and saved Egypt during a great famine. During the process, Joseph's father and brothers reunited with him and they all moved to Egypt.

Therefore, in today's first reading we read: "A new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt." The new king doesn't know the story that I just told you ... and therefore a new one emerges. The first lines of the Book of Exodus begin with: "[The king] said to his people, 'See! The Israelite people have multiplied and become more numerous than we are! Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase; otherwise, in time of war they too may join our enemies to fight against us, and so leave the land.' ... So the Egyptians reduced the Israelites to cruel slavery." (Exodus 1:9, 10, 13)

The Book of Exodus begins with a story of fear. The new king of Egypt is afraid of the Israelites. The new king doesn't know Joseph, or his loyal service to the Pharaoh, or the harmony with which they lived. All this new king knows is himself and what he sees in the present moment. He's afraid, and because he's afraid he enslaves the entire population of Israel. 

Fear and slavery go hand and hand ... per se. Of course, the entire human institution of slavery is built on fear; however, so too are our hearts. Where we live in fear we live unfree, we are enslaved to fear. Why? Most of us turn in on ourselves when we are afraid. When we are gripped with fear, most of us also assume we're alone, that God's not there. When we "feel" alone in our spiritual lives, we turn in on ourselves and try to figure it out, protect ourselves, or "just move on". However, in doing so, the fear doesn't go away ... it lingers unresolved, always whispering to us in our quieter moments, trapping us in isolation within. That's slavery: where you and I are unfree to be who we are in Christ.

History is forever altered in today's first reading, all because one man was afraid ... all because one man turned in on himself when he was afraid. What about you? How do you respond to fear? Trust the process, for God desires to do mighty deeds in your life this week. However, we have to start at the beginning in order for God to bring you freedom. So, be not afraid ... ask the questions: Where are you afraid? What are you afraid of? What's your response to fear?

© Fr. Mark Toups, 2013



Today, the 169 seminarians in the Seminarians Summer Program are on a Day of Prayer. The day mirrors the schedule and discipline of their earlier 8-day silent retreat at the beginning of the summer and thus serves a one day retreat of sorts. The 22 priests and seminarians here for the Spiritual Exercises are on day 17 of the 30-day retreat.


"Fear is a natural part of life. But there is also, and today above all, a more profound form of fear of an existential type that sometimes overflows into anxiety. It is born from a sense of emptiness that is linked to a culture that is permeated by a widespread theoretical and practical nihilism. (1) … we must allow [Christ's] presence and his grace to transform our heart, which is always subject to human weakness. We must know how to recognize that losing something indeed, losing ourselves for the true God, the God of love and of life is actually gaining ourselves, finding ourselves more fully. Whoever entrusts himself to Jesus already experiences in this life the peace and joy of heart that the world cannot give, and that it cannot even take away once God has given it to us." (2)
― (1) Angelus, June 22, 2008 and (2) Homily, Solemnity of Pentecost, May 23, 2010

Here's a clip that gives you a "first hand view" of what IPF is and does ...