July 12, 2013


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

Genesis 46:1-7,28-30
Psalm 37:3-4,18-19,27-28,39-40

In today's first reading at Mass we draw to a close the life of Jacob (renamed Israel), a story we've followed throughout the week. After years of grief-stricken longing for his thought to be dead son, Israel is reunited with his beloved son Joseph: "Israel had sent Judah ahead to Joseph, so that he might meet him in Goshen. On his arrival in the region of Goshen, Joseph hitched the horses to his chariot and rode to meet his father Israel in Goshen." (Genesis 46:28-29a) Father and son reunite: "As soon as Joseph saw him, he flung himself on his neck and wept a long time in his arms. And Israel said to Joseph, 'At last I can die, now that I have seen for myself that Joseph is still alive.'" (Genesis 46:29b)

Let's summarize the week. Struggle is a part of life. Whether it's struggle with God or life's circumstances or with ourselves, each of us knows the challenge of struggle. Many of us struggle with, not only ourselves, but with the sin of others. Where we are wounded we are in pain. Pain often reveals where we are "alone", revealing a place in our heart where we are isolated from God. This often leads to resentment and unforgiveness. Of course, God wants freedom and only desires for us to let Him into our hearts. When we let God in, we are then freed to forgive. And, when we forgive we are moved to reconcile.

Reconciliation has three-fold dimension because God dwells within us as well as within others and within the Church He established. We see these dynamics as we peer into the story of Jacob (Israel), as well as the story of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph is freed from his hate as he opens his heart to the Lord. However, he is also reconciled with the brothers, as well as his father. Joseph doesn't just "forgive in his heart", he also restores the broken relationships in his life so that he might live in complete freedom.

You and I want God ... you want holiness ... you want freedom. You wouldn't be reading a blog like this if you didn't. And, here's the really good news: your desire for freedom is actually God desiring your freedom in you. It takes an enormous amount of energy within us to hate or clutch to self-protection and unforgiveness. When we hold onto these things it is ourselves we hold in bondage, not the person who hurt us. As a priest for 12 years now, I haven't seen anything transform someone's spiritual life more than forgiveness and reconciliation. However, reconciliation can be as equally difficult as the forgiving.

On one hand, many of us may struggle with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For those who struggle with Confession, your struggle may be thinking "why do I have to confess to a priest?" or "why can't I just go straight to God?" However, to be honest ... if we're really honest ... the real struggle is the posture of humility of having to actually face another person (although the priest is actually acting in the person of Christ) and admit my sin. There's a reason you don't baptize your own kids. There's a reason you don't consecrate the Eucharist at your house. There's a reason you go to a priest for other things. And, there's a reason God Himself asks us to reconcile ourselves to the Body of Christ, the Church, through a priest. So, step one of reconciliation is the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Secondly, we may be called to restore a broken relationship with the other who sinned against us. This might be difficult also. The key here is to do all things in Christ and with Christ. You may not know what to say. You may not know when or how or what it could look like. Don't move faster ... or slower ... than Christ. Ask Him to show you. Ask Him to open the doors so that you don't have to "make it happen." Trust that God is guiding you every step of the way.

Spend a little time today asking yourself about reconciliation. When's the last time you celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation and went to Confession? Who specifically in your life do you need a restored and healed relationship with? Trust the process ... trust the Lord ... trust the power of being reconciled.

© 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 Ascension of Christ and its essential connection to the Liturgy. The 22 priests and seminarians here for the Spiritual Exercises are on day 14 of the 30-day retreat. Click here to learn more about IPF


"Reconciliation, justice and peace are not possible without a profound purification of the heart, without a renewal of the mind, a 'metanoia'; without the newness that arises from the meeting with God."
― Second Special Assembly for Africa, Synod of Bishops, October 24, 2009