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 at. About thirty-five years ago he returned from Vietnam wearing his military uniform. An anti-war protester saw him and spit at 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 to 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

From Archives (Year C homilies for Fourth Sunday of Lent):

First Things: Your Story & His Story (2016)
I Have Sinned (2013)
A New Creation (2010)
Confession of Sins and New Creation (2007)
The Reproach of Egypt (2004)
Return of the Prodigal Son (2001)
Who is The Prodigal Son? (1998)

Homilies for Year A Readings for RCIA Scrutinies:

Prayer and Spiritual Combat Week 4 (2014)
Sight (2011)
Small Gesture with Enormous Promise (2008)
Seeing and Knowing (2005)
Men Who Went Blind (2002)
Fatal Blindness (1999)

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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March 4, 2010

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Bulletin (Fr. Neuhaus on Marriage Amendment, Local pastor on John Jay Report)


John Paul II Condemns Terrorist Attacks in Madrid

Jimmy Akins Meets Jack Chick

De-Coding Da Vinci: Is it true that the Gospels don’t tell the true story of Jesus? Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene married? Did Jesus really designate Mary Magdalene as the leader of his movement, not Peter? In her new book Amy Welborn gives the facts behind the fiction

Save Marriage? It's Too Late. (The Pill made same-sex nuptials inevitable)

In the tradition of Screwtape Letters: Moloch Now

"Your assertion that 'serious' Catholics should vote for a candidate based solely on any one of the five issues outlined (important though they are) is truly frightening..." Karl Keating responds to critics of Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics (For my part, I encourage you to read it and decide for yourself.)

Sexual Abuse of Students Explodes; Public Officials Asked to Respond

From Fr. Michael G. Ryan, Rector of St. James Cathedral Sex Abuse Crisis - a Pastoral Letter:

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)

MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru