Homily for July 6, Wednesday of XIV week in Ordinary Time, year I, Healing Mass
The first reading today sets us in the middle of the story of Joseph and his brothers. It’s a well-known and appealing story, with elements that are easy for us to relate to and which capture our imagination: sibling rivalry and violence when Joseph’s brothers sell him as a slave, drama when his father believes that Joseph has died, Joseph’s amazing rags to riches story in Egypt, his unexpected encounter with his brothers who do not recognize him, and finally, reconciliation. In the end, Joseph is able to save his entire family from famine precisely because of all the suffering that went before.
Herein is a very appropriate lesson for us today: often, God’s plan allows for suffering and hardship, but not without meaning. Somehow or another, in this life or the next, our pain and sorrow is destined to be transformed into a gift, a source of blessing for ourselves and the whole Mystical Body of Christ.
Sometimes, that entails healing and the removal of the cause of our suffering, which is just a step along a path. Joseph suffered exile from his family, slavery, and prison for a little while. However, he ended up in a position of power and authority, reunited and reconciled with his whole family, whom he saved. Other times, God blesses us and others through the suffering itself – by helping us to experience our need for God, by bringing to the forefront the need to remember that this life is only preparation for eternity, by joining our suffering to the redemptive Passion of Christ on the cross and winning blessings for ourselves and for others, or in some other way. Every person has unique personality, circumstances, and needs, and so God’s plan for every person is also unique.
The Romans used to say that all roads lead to Rome; for Christians, all roads of life lead to heaven if we choose to follow God’s plan each day. We need to approach every difficulty with prayerful confidence and trust as shown in today’s psalm: “the plan of the Lord stands forever; the design of His heart, through all generations… The eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him, upon those who hope for His kindness, to deliver them … and preserve them”.