March 17, 2017
(St. Patrick, Bishop)
Jacob’s sons said to one another: “Here comes that master dreamer (Joseph)! Come on, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here; we could say that a wild beast devoured him. We shall then see what comes of his dreams.”
When Reuben heard this, he tried to save him from their hands, saying, “We must not take his life. Instead of shedding blood,” he continued, “just throw him into that cistern there in the desert; but do not kill him outright.” His purpose was to rescue him from their hands and return him to his father. . . .
Judah said to his brothers: “What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood? Rather, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites, instead of doing away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.” Gn_37:3-4,12-13a,17b-28a
It’s funny how jealousy and revenge have a way of getting back at us. And yet, it’s equally amazing how Good deeds can come back to reward us, as well.
Today we saw the battle between good and evil in the story of Joseph and his brothers. The evil that stemmed out of their jealousy over their father’s love for Joseph, was leading God’s “chosen,” Twelve Tribes of Israel all the way to the extreme of murder.
And yet, the Good of Common Sense, the Good of Human Morality, prevailed, when Reuben and Judah were able to convince their brothers that rather than just satiating their thirst for revenge by outright killing Joseph, they might even profit from not killing him, by selling him as a slave.
And thus, the Greater evil was conquered by the Lesser evil, for the sake of the Good, which was the intent of Reuben and Judah. You see, in their slightly higher morally-developed consciences, these two brothers knew that the murder of their own brother would come back to haunt them for a very long time. In retrospect, that simple decision of Life over Death, would lead to the salvation of their entire family.
When we think about it deeply enough, it is the story of ALL of human history: From the decisions of Adam and Eve at the tree, to the murder of Abel by his brother Cain; From the crucifixion of Jesus, to the genocides of millions, in our own generation.
From the simple concepts of jealousy and greed, came murders, which avoided, may have advanced us thousands of years in Wisdom and even in Technology.
It’s a good Lenten reflection, because it all begins with every little thought and deed WE do.
Maybe instead of allowing that complaint to escape my lips, I bite that tongue instead, and offer a compliment and a smile.
Maybe instead of allowing that snide comment that was thrown at me, to eat away at my stomach walls with anxiety and anger, I pass it off as their silly insensitivity, and try to Love them anyway.
Maybe, if I listen and allow Her, the Holy Spirit will show me a way to use a Lesser evil to convince someone not to do something Horrific.
And EVERY time we can change ONE evil into a Good, that just may be The Good that will result in the Salvation of a Multitude.
Jesus took the punishment of Evil in order to offer us the Salvation of Eternity. Now it’s up to us – to Accept or Refuse that offer.
And Lent is the perfect time to sharpen our resolve – for Life.
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