July 12, 2017
The sons of Jacob, the brothers of Joseph said, “Alas, we are being punished because of our brother. We saw the anguish of his heart when he pleaded with us, yet we paid no heed; that is why this anguish has now come upon us.” Gn_41:55-57;42:5-7a,17-24a
Jesus instructed His Apostles: “Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” Mt_10:1-7
Quickly moving from Jacob’s wrestling match with God, yesterday, to the story of his sons, today we see how Joseph, like his father Jacob, had the wonderful Gift of prophesy, through his ability to interpret dreams.
Joseph was also a gifted mathematician, which proved itself in his calculation of how much food he needed to store and ration in order to survive a seven-year, world-wide famine.
Yet, not unlike the prophets and dreamers who would succeed Joseph, we see that prophesy can be a pretty dangerous undertaking. People usually don’t want to hear about the future, especially when it has to do with them and it’s not good.
And despite all his giftedness, Joseph was not endowed with the art of subtle persuasion. He was blunt and to the point. And he could actually be rather callous and insulting with some of his outbursts. It was that bluntness that got Joseph into so much trouble with his brothers, that they sold him off into slavery.
Ironically, in Egypt, it was that same wit and wisdom, with a little more subtlety, that prompted the Pharaoh to make Joseph the second in command of the entire nation.
Then, some 20-years later, we see that his brothers were still carrying the burden of guilt for what they had done to Joseph. And Joseph had a field day with it! Between his extraordinary authority, his brothers’ desperate need for the food – that HE controlled, and their blindness to recognize him, Joseph took full advantage of the situation.
You see, the sons of Jacob, those 12-tribes of Israel, were clearly not living in the Kingdom of Heaven that Jacob envisioned with a ladder connected to the earth, nor that Jesus proclaimed to the lost sheep of Israel, because the darkness of their sin blinded them from ever recognizing that Kingdom, right there in their own brother, Joseph.
In the end, he WAS their most valuable Gift all along. He was the ladder that brought them food, and wealth, and power in the middle of a world-wide famine. He was their connection to the God who loved them, despite all their past failures.
Sometimes, beloved, the challenges, the struggles, the illnesses, the demons that we battle with, can actually be our own stairway to God’s Kingdom as well: when we keep our eyes open, when we trust in Jesus and when we hold firm to God’s commandments.
Because it’s not jealousy nor hatred, it’s not selfishness nor revenge, that bring us the greatest reward. It’s compassion and love. It’s mercy and forgiveness. It’s seeing God in the Gifts of our neighbors, despite their shortcomings.
And when we can truly grasp that fact, beloved, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand for us as well!
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