The Reproach of Egypt

(Homily for Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C)

Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you. Joshua 5:9

During our Lenten retreat Fr. John Corapi told about times he was spat upon. About thirty-five years ago he returned from Vietnam wearing his Green Beret uniform. An anti-war protestor saw him and spit on him. More recently, at the height of the clergy sex abuse scandal, Fr. Corapi was in an airport. Recognizing him as a priest, someone came up and spit at him.

It is terrible to be an object of reproach. After forty years of wandering in the desert, the Israelites still felt the “reproach of Egypt” upon them. We do not know exactly in what it consisted, but it caused a horrible sense of unworthiness. Perhaps it involved feeling estranged from their true homeland after so many years of enslavement. With God's help they had broken free, yet for forty years, the sensual pleasures of Egypt continued to strongly attract them. (Ex 16:3) They had gotten out of Egypt, but Egypt had not gotten out of them.*

Jesus tells about a young man who felt a similar reproach, an estrangement from his father who loved him dearly. By his own poor choice he had gone far from his home. He would have remained sunk in self-pity and misery if an act of grace had not picked him.

The grace was this: Jesus, who had no sin, made himself sin for our sake. (2 Cor 7:21)

And what finally removed the reproach? For the Israelites it was a Passover meal. After eating it, they re-entered their true homeland. For the prodigal son it was also a meal, a most sumptuous one. You and I are used to eating meat, almost whenever we desire it. It was not so back then. Killing a fatted calf meant a very joyous feast. The missing son had finally come home.

The reproach of Egypt was removed.


*A person struggling with a drug or sex addiction knows this experience. Today Internet pornography has destroyed many marriages and families. For men striving for sexual purity, I highly recommend Breaking Free by Stephen Wood.

Spanish Version

Homily for Cycle A (RCIA) Readings Fatal Blindness

From Archives - 2001 Homily for Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C: Return of the Prodigal Son
1998: Who is The Prodigal Son?

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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It will also be well to keep in mind that the study conducted by John Jay College is unprecedented. No other societal institution — no church of another denomination, no public or private school system, no voluntary organization — has undertaken a study of this nature or undergone this degree of scientific scrutiny. And so, while it may appear that the Catholic Church is unique in the breadth and depth of the sins and omissions of some of its leaders, it is not. The sexual abuse of children and young people by trusted authority figures is both an outrage and a societal scourge that cuts across all institutions, beginning with the family. I realize, of course, that there is small consolation in acknowledging this because the Church should hold itself — and should rightly be held — to a higher standard than other institutions of society, but it does provide a context for viewing and understanding the extent of this terrible problem. And I believe a context is what we need at this time

Pictures from Holy Family Parish Walk to St. James Cathedral (March 13, 2004)


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