St. Benedict of Norcia
Genesis 44:18-21,23b-29;45:1-5 + Matthew 10:7-15
July 11, 2019
“Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.”
One of the items on my “bucket list” is to spend a considerable amount of time writing about The City of God by St. Augustine of Hippo. He lived in a cultural setting similar to ours. The book is a contrast between the City of God and the city of man. His comparison of the two leads to many reflections on the nature of divine Providence. Many of these reflections consider how God chooses to bring moral good out of moral evil.
In today’s First Reading we hear one of the Old Testament’s chief examples of God’s providential will to bring goodness out of evil. The Old Testament patriarch Joseph recognizes God’s Providence. Joseph exhorts his brothers: “do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.” The wisdom with which Joseph says this is striking, and worthy of long reflection. But consider just Joseph’s phrase, “for the sake of saving lives”.
This phrase lays bare for Christians that Joseph is a “type” of Jesus Christ. “Type” is a technical theological term for someone (or even some thing) whose role in the Old Testament foreshadows Jesus. So reflect back on the story of the patriarch Joseph that we’ve been hearing at weekday Mass, and consider how the story of his rejection and redemption foreshadows the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Saint Benedict of Norcia, engraving by F.L. Schmitner