July 10, 2013


Readings at Mass: Wednesday of 14th Week of Ordinary Time

Genesis 41:55-57; 42:5-7a,17-24a
Psalm 33:2-3,10-11,18-19
The last two days we've come to know Jacob, renamed Israel after his wresting match with God. Jacob eventually had twelve sons by his two wives Leah and Rachel. Joseph was the 11th son. He was highly favored in his father's eyes and received special attention. Joseph's brothers were jealous (much as their father was of his own brother) and eventually sold him into slavery. Joseph was thrown into prison for years, but was eventually let out because of his ability to interpret dreams. He became second in command of Egypt and stockpiled food for the country since he knew through dreams that famine would come to the land. That's the story behind the scene in the first reading at today's Mass.

Famine has gripped the entire world and people from the surrounding lands came to Egypt for food. Joseph's brothers showed up in Egypt to get food for themselves, and, of course, they have no idea that their brother is still alive, much less the second most powerful man in Egypt.

The drama peaks today when: "Joseph’s brothers came and knelt down before him with their faces to the ground ... But Joseph concealed his own identity from them and spoke sternly to them." (Genesis 43:6-7)

There's an old saying: "You can pick your friends but you can't pick your family." The story of Joseph's pain is similar to the story of many others' pain: sometimes our deepest wounds are found right within your family. Joseph is sold into slavery, a horrendous crime in and of itself. However, what hurt the most is that Joseph's own brothers did it ... his own family.

The deeper the love the deeper the wound. The deeper the wound the deeper the pain. The deeper the pain the deeper the resentment. And, the deeper the resentment the harder it is to forgive. It happens in biological families; it happens in parish families. It happens in marriages; it happens amongst priests and religious communities. When the people you love the most hurt you it's harder to forgive.

Pain, resentment, and unforgiveness eventually enslave us, not the other. We are as free as our resentments. The reason we hold onto resentment and unforgiveness is because in some weird way they actually protect us from the emotional pain. That's why sons don't forgive their fathers. That's why daughters don't forgive their mothers. That's why siblings don't forgive their siblings. It sounds like this: "If I give you my resentment and unforgiveness then you win and all I have is my pain ... and what will protect me then?" Whew.

There's a difference between giving something to God and letting God in. To be honest with you, I have no earthly idea how to give God something as deeply embedded as resentment and unforgiveness toward your family. However, I am utterly convinced that God is who He says He is: Emmanuel, God is with us. The first step is giving Him permission to come in ... into the unforgiveness ... then into the resentment ... then into the pain. The first step is letting Him in. To find pain simply look for resentment and unforgiveness. There, today, God is knocking. Will you let Him in?

© Fr. Mark Toups, 2013



Today, the 169 seminarians in the Seminarians Summer Program continue with their new course on the Liturgy. Today they will learn more about the human thirst for God as a response to God’s thirst for us, thus, visioning Liturgy through God's desire to meet us in our thirst for Him. The 22 priests and seminarians here for the Spiritual Exercises are on day 12 of the 30-day retreat. Click here to learn more about IPF


"We must learn the great lesson of forgiveness: we must not let the gnawings of resentment work in our soul, but must open our hearts to the magnanimity of listening to others, open our hearts to understanding them, eventually to accepting their apologies, to generously offering our own."
― Homily, Eucharistic Congress, Bari, Italy, May 29, 2005