11 July 2007 Memorial of
Gen 41, 55-7; 42, 5-7, 17-24: Joseph
The first reading is one of the most touching and dramatic stories in the Bible: the story of Joseph. Joseph was the first born of Jacob and Rachel. He easily became the favorite of Jacob and the cause of his brothers’s envy. He was sold to
His family came to him during the seven years of famine. As governor, his brothers knelt before him, their faces on the ground, asking for grain. This is the fulfillment of Joseph’s dream, the very same dream that moved his brothers to sell him to
Some short insights. First, the sons of Joseph have certain meaning in Hebrew. Manasseh means 'to forgive/forget' and Ephraim means 'twice fruitful'. Joseph must have placed memories in his sons' names. With Manasseh, he would forgive and forget the sins of his brothers, the abandonment and loneliness in Egypt, the 'Mrs. Potiphars' in his life, the years in the dungeon and many other sufferings he endured. With Ephraim, he would remember that after all these sufferings, God has granted him many blessings twice over.Perhaps, with us, we may consider why we have been less fruitful. Maybe we have been bogged down by our hurts in the past, that these hurts have hindered us from being more fruitful.
Second, the brothers in the first reading were bothered by their guilt and their conscience. And the first step towards resolution is to admit the responsibility of the things they had done. The brothers did not blame Jacob and his favoritism. They did not point a finger at young and arrogant Joseph that led them to sell him. They did not justify their sins, attributing it to their psychological immaturity. The brothers just admitted their sins.
Joseph remains to this day one of the most beautiful characters in the Bible. Joseph and Jesus were both favored sons. They were recognized and exalted only after undergoing a series of humiliations and sufferings; but their sufferings brought salvation to those who caused them pain. But most importantly, Joseph and Jesus taught us the solution to strained relationships: forgiveness.
When Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers resurrected their fears that Joseph would avenge their ill-treatment of him. But Joseph calmed their dread and assured them of his love.