By Fr Antony Christy, SDB –
Joseph was the 11th son of Jacob but he was special for an obvious reason: that he was the first and the log-awaited son of Rachel, the most beloved spouse of Jacob. Not just the new technicolour long sleeves that Jacob prepared for Joseph but a general preferential treatment that Joseph received from his father, angered his older siblings. The anger grew into hatred in the hearts of the brothers with Joseph sharing his dreams, placing himself over and above the rest of them. Poor Joseph, he was not concocting them, they were being given him.
Apart from looking at it as a cause of the rift, look at the grace that God gave Joseph and the way Joseph was highly mindful of it – how conscious and responsible are you regarding the gifts that God has given you?
For Joseph, the dreams were to be his distinguishing mark and his USP. But for the brothers that was their breaking point, they decided to get rid of Joseph, unaware that God was using their wickedness as part of God’s design. Sold to Egyptian merchants, Joseph undergoes a series of hardships – a servant, a slave and then an accused, he rises like a phoenix, because God was with him.
Amidst all his downslide, he remained steadfast to the Lord and believed firmly that God will one day deliver him. The Lord was with Joseph (Gen 39:2), and Joseph did not only see his deliverance, he became the source of deliverance to the whole kingdom of Egypt and to his own household and their kith and kin. The one who seemed to have been cursed, becomes a blessing to everyone around him. Though he had so much to hold against his brothers, he never did that because he was capable of looking at everything that happened from God’s perspective (gen 45:8).
The greatest of all his feats was that he stood his ground amidst all trials; he never gave up. He never gave up on God and God never gave him up! There were hardships, there were temptations, there were things that appeared glamorous, there were apparently promising offers and there were moments of glory and vengeance that could have taken him astray – Joseph remained the same all through.
His faithfulness to the Lord never changed. He knew his roots and stuck to them; he identified his ground and held on to it. The Lord made him shine because he remained steadfast during moments of utter darkness. Joseph comes across as a great model for three important Christian dispositions:
i) never lose trust in the Lord;
ii) forgive and accept each other’s limitation and
iii) look out for God’s will even in the worst of your life situations.
You, my dear youngster…
– have you ever believed that the hardships and trials that come your way may have a deeper significance?
– can you remain strong in your trust in God in spite of the difficulties that may possible come your way?
Getting in Touch With The Trinity: God the Father (Questions 30-70) Still in the section of I Beleive, we are introduced to the highest of all truths, the Trinitarian God that we believe in. We believe in ONE God because that is what God has revealed to us through the Word. God wishes to be known as someone who can be called upon and related to and so revealed God’s name in history as YHWH (Yahweh).
Out of reverence for God the people of Israel never pronounced (even now) that word. They substituted it with another word Adonai (Lord). The New Testament attributes Jesus with that title as we see in Rom 10:9. It is the Holy Spirit who makes us understand, experience and relate to God. The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are not three gods but one single Being that is threefold and yet remains one.
God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, the Creator of the universe who created you and me. The creation account in the Bible is a theological statement that God created this world, it is neither a scientific model nor a researched answer. The theological statement made there is, that this world is not a product of chance, it is created and willed into existence, everything with a purpose and a design. A Christian can very well see the reasonableness of the theory of evolution from the perspective of the Creator, but he or she has to beware of “evolutionism” which upholds chance and denies God.
– Are you in some way awed by God the Creator in your daily life?
KNOW YOUR CHURCH:
How many Churches are there?
One might simply say, innumerable! Looks so, with the number of denominations and independent churches that claim their allegiance to Christ and his kingdom. That is not what we mean here. There is but One, Holy, Apostolic Church, founded on the Rock, by the Head who is Christ. However, Church being a communion of persons and communion of communities of faith, this Church cannot be uniform in spite of its universality.
The Church teaches us that the communion we share among ourselves as believers has to extend itself to those who have gone before us, as they continue to live in the Lord just as we do. Owing to the difference in the state of existence, we can think of three different levels of existence of this Church – i) the militant church that we are – fighting the everyday battle to remain faithful to the Lord and the Lord’s calling; ii) the jubilant church that the saints and angels form – enjoying the bliss of heaven, the known, the less known and the unknown persons justified in the mercy of God; iii) the penitent church that is in transition – those who have gone before us, but still stand in need of God’s mercy to receive the crown prepared for them.
The Jubilant Church prays and intercedes for us. We pray for the Penitent Church as they are in no position to pray for themselves. We, the Militant Church, are invited when there is time still to make ourselves worthy of the home prepared for us by the Lord at the dusk of this present life here on earth.
Together We are Strong: (Questions 22-46) – The Social Doctrines of the Church: Are they necessary? Is not the Church a mere spiritual entity ? Why does it need a social teaching? These questions are results of a misunderstanding of a few foundational truths: Church has to be understood as a sacrament of salvation and salvation has to be understood as a holistic well being of the entire human community.
Hence, a piecemeal approach to human wellbeing cannot suffice in the truest of the Christian sense. To set forth the requirements of just social action as they appear in the Gospel and to denounce social, economic, or political actions and structures in the name of justice, whenever they contradict the Gospel message, are the two major purposes of the Church’s Social doctrines. It is not just a person, or a small set of persons who determine what the social teachings of the Church should be – all the members of the Church according to their tasks and charisms are obliged to contribute to its making. Church is interested not only in the individual but in the collective human community; the Church is interested not only in the spiritual dimension of a person’s life but in the total welfare of a person. Solidarity and Total Human Development are two key concepts of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
The Social Doctrine of the Church began to make its mark from Pope Leo XIII who wrote his encyclical, Rerum Novarum in 1891asserting the rights of the weak, the dignity of the poor and the right and necessity of the labour unions. The latest of this kind is the encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si, challenging the world to celebrate ecology!
– When do you remember last that as a Christian community you opposed any injustice?
(Fr Antony Christy is a Salesian Priest from 2005, who has a Masters in Philosophy (specialisation in Religion) and a Masters in Theology (Specialisation in Catechetics). He is currently pursuing his doctoral research in Theology at Salesian Pontifical University, Rome. Walking with the Young towards a World of Peace and Dialogue is the passion that fires him on.)