A reflection on the first Mass reading (Gen 46: 1-7, 28-30) for Friday, July 8, 2011 by Mother Maria Micael New, OSB.
Every Friday, the Liturgy reminds us of our call to conversion. We begin with Matins praying Psalm 106: “They [the Israelites] scorned the land of promise, they had no faith in His word, they complained inside their tents, and would not listen to the voice of the Lord…. They worshipped the idols of the nations and these became a snare to entrap them, they even offered their own sons and daughters in sacrifice to demons…” That’s getting pretty low! Listen to how God responds in the Psalm: “Time after time He rescued them… He paid heed to their distress so often as He heard their cry.” What a God! That is unbelievable that He would continually pay heed to their distress inspite of all they continued to do. In Lauds, we pray the canticle of Isaiah which says, “Turn to Me and be safe all you ends of the earth for I am God, there is no other.” (Is 45:22) Why can He act such? Because He is God. A little later in Lauds, we pray the antiphon that reads, “I have come to call sinners.” (cf Mt 9:13)
How perfectly the first Mass reading goes with this message of conversion, where we hear, “As soon as Joseph saw his father, he flung himself on his neck and wept a long time in his arms.” Isn’t that the perfect image of prayer—the son in his father’s arms? When speaking of prayer, St. Benedict has in his Rule: “If someone chooses to pray privately, he may simply go in and pray, not in a loud voice, but with tears and heartfelt devotion.”(RB 52) Doesn’t that match the image of Joseph in his father’s arms? With tears and heartfelt devotion. That should be our prayer, especially on a Friday. The Church has never stopped teaching that we should often reflect on the suffering and death of Christ for our sins. Every Friday should have a penitential aspect to it. We should take to heart what a Friday means. The sacrifices we make should come from our appreciation for the death of Christ. Give a little something to Christ during the day.
Time after time He’s rescued each one of us. None of us is innocent. I’m sorry if you think you are because then you don’t get to be in the Father’s arms the way we see that Joseph is. Rather, be grateful that you are in a position of being forgiven. And in your turn, forgive others. If we can live that way, we shall be in perfect peace the rest of our lives.