I want to reflect briefly on the first reading of this day. The first reading is a part of the Story of Joseph in Genesis 37, 39-45. The entire Story is one of the early Jewish stories of their roots, their forefathers and their loving and faithful God. In this story Joseph is the last born of Jacob’s many sons. Jacob loves Joseph the most. This causes much jealousy – ‘he loves you more than he loves me’. Joseph’s brothers plot against Joseph and finally sell him into slavery. Joseph lands in Egypt and thru many adventures over a number of years is appointed to a high office by the Pharaoh. A terrible famine strikes Egypt and the entire middle east area. Joseph’ job is to ration out the food stores of the Pharaoh. His starving brothers come to him for food from nearby Canaan. Joseph’s brothers do not recognize him, but Joseph recognizes them. Joseph reveals himself and reconciles with his brothers and tells his brothers to go back to Canaan and tell his father that he is still alive. There is great rejoicing. The final chapters of Genesis recount Jacob’s family moving into Egypt at the invitation of the Pharaoh and their settling into their new home.
I love stories. Stories seem to touch us on a deep level. I like to use stories in my homilies and retreat conferences. I could tell you about jealousy, slavery, temptations, dream interpretation, reconciliation and how God can write straight with crooked lines. I could encourage you to remain faithful to God despite the rough times in your journey. I could quote one of my favorite spiritual authors, Ronald Rohleiser. In his wonderful book Sacred Fire,he says this:
… All of us have been wounded. No one comes to adulthood with his or her heart fully intact. In small ways or traumatic, we have all been treated unjustly, violated, hurt, ignored, not properly honored, and unfairly cast aside. We all carry wounds, and, with those wounds, we all carry anger, bitterness and some nonforgiveness.
These wounds can easily embitter and harden our soul. Or they can deepen our compassion and forgiveness.
I could try to explain all of this to you. Or I could suggest you read the story of Joseph in Genesis, the story of a man who remained faithful to God despite the trauma and temptations in his life’s journey… the story of a man who learned compassion and forgiveness from his difficult life.
Our Bible has many such stories which teach us, encourage us and challenge us. I would suggest you go to Amazon.com or Christianbooks.com, search children’s bibles with pictures… a very easy way to immerse yourself in these beautiful stories, even if you aren’t an avid reader.