Israel left Canaan with his possessions, and reached Beersheba. There he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to Israel in a vision at night, ‘Jacob, Jacob’, he said. ‘I am here’, he replied. ‘I am God, the God of your father’, he continued. ‘Do not be afraid of going down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there. I myself will go down to Egypt with you. I myself will bring you back again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.’ Then Jacob left Beersheba. Israel’s sons conveyed their father Jacob, their little children and their wives in the waggons Pharaoh had sent to fetch him.
Taking their livestock and all that they had acquired in the land of Canaan, they went to Egypt, Jacob and all his family with him: his sons and his grandsons, his daughters and his grand-daughters, in a word, all his children he took with him to Egypt.
Israel sent Judah ahead to Joseph, so that the latter might present himself to him in Goshen. When they arrived in the land of Goshen, Joseph had his chariot made ready and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen. As soon as he appeared he threw his arms round his neck and for a long time wept on his shoulder. Israel said to Joseph, ‘Now I can die, now that I have seen you again, and seen you still alive.’
Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be cunning as serpents and yet as harmless as doves.
‘Beware of men: they will hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the pagans. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes; because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you. ‘Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved. If they persecute you in one town, take refuge in the next; and if they persecute you in that, take refuge in another. I tell you solemnly, you will not have gone the round of the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.’
When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say
Jesus warns his apostles that they will be like sheep amidst wolves in this world, while carrying his simple message of love and how to live as a perfectly-functioning human being. His advice to them is to be “shrewd as serpents and simple as doves”. I find this imagery so powerful. It reminds me that while I should be pure at heart and pure in my motives, I should also try to be wary of the wiles of human beings and not let evil in this world taint the beauty and love I gain from Christ Jesus.
Further, Jesus also says, “When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” The Holy Spirit is a powerful being. It gives us words and enlightens our actions in ways beyond our own understanding. At times when our human reasoning fails us, and we do not know how to respond, give yourself over to the power of the Holy Spirit. Through stories, or parables, or actions, the message of the Kingdom of God can sometimes be more powerfully transmitted to others.
When you feel discouraged from meeting rejection in your evangelization, remember that Jesus said this, “but whoever endures to the end will be saved”. Jesus has promised us eternal life in heaven with His Father the God of all. This alone should be enough to be our consolation and encouragement.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Serene Goh)
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for the people in my life who were vital for my conversion to and within the Catholic faith.
Prayer: I pray that I may continue to evangelize effectively to others who have not felt your presence and love.