Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the tale between Joseph, the son of Jacob or Israel and his brothers in Egypt at the time when the whole world experienced a widespread famine, and Joseph, having been abandoned by his brothers many years before, had become the powerful Regent of Egypt. And the brothers of Joseph came to him without knowing who he actually was, and Joseph recognised who they were.
There is some sorts of parallel today, in what we heard in the first reading from the Book of Genesis and the Gospel passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew, as the Gospel passage recounted to us the moment when the Lord Jesus chose His twelve chief disciples, the ones who later on would be known as the Twelve Apostles. In both, there are twelve individuals involved, in the first reading being the twelve sons of Israel, and in the Gospel, the twelve disciples of Jesus.
The number twelve has a particular significance in the Bible as it represents the completeness of things, as the whole nation of Israel eventually came from these twelve sons of Jacob, becoming the twelve tribes of Israel. And the reunion between Joseph and his brothers in today’s passage was also no less symbolic and significant, if we understand the intention of why the Lord called His Twelve Apostles.
Since the time of ancient Israel, the twelve tribes of Israel have been torn apart many times, because of their disagreements and conflicts between them, and the division would become permanent when the ten northern tribes formed the separate kingdom of Israel and the remaining two tribes of Judah and Benjamin formed the kingdom of Judah after the death of king Solomon.
When the northern kingdom was overrun and destroyed by the Assyrians and then followed on by the destruction of the southern kingdom by the Babylonians, the tribes and the people of Israel were scattered all over the place, and later on, all over the world. It was just like the separation that happened between Joseph and his brothers, when the jealousy of the latter made them to plot to abandon Joseph to the slavers of Midian.
And what did the Lord Jesus called His Twelve Apostles for? He called them all first with the mission to go to the towns of the Israelites, to the lost sheep of Israel, to gather them all back to the fold of the Lord, essentially to reunite all the scattered people and the tribes of the Lord. When He told them not to go to the pagan territories, it was not that the Lord was biased against the non-Jews and the pagans, but it was because at that time, the primary objective was for the Word of God to be preached to the people whom God had first called.
Therefore, after this mission has been completed, with the suffering, death and resurrection of Our Lord, and subsequently when the Lord commanded His Apostles and disciples to go forth to the nations and baptise them in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, the mission of the Apostles were expanded to include the evangelisation of the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people, but with the same intention.
And this intention is for them all to bring together all the scattered flock of the Lord, from all peoples and from all the nations, all who have been scattered and separated from God because of their sins. Sin has been the cause of the sundering of the love between God and mankind, and many have been lost to the Lord because of their sins. It is now up to us, brothers and sisters in Christ, as the ones who now bear the same responsibility that the Apostles had once borne, for us to carry on their mission and reach out to all those who have not yet heard of God’s truth.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore reflect in what way each and every one of us will be able to dedicate ourselves more closely to the Lord, and in what way we will be able to contribute through our own actions and examples, in living our lives with genuine faith so that many more will come to believe in God through us.
May the Lord continue to guide us in our path, and may He continue to bless us all in all of our endeavours from now on. May He strengthen us and encourage us to live ever more faithfully from now on, and give us the wisdom and strength to carry on living as true Christians. Amen.