Genesis 44, 18-29; 45, 1-5; Psalm 105; Matthew 10, 7-15
"Come closer to me," he told his brothers. When they had done so, he said: "I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt. But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you." (Genesis 45, 3-5)
The story of Joseph is one of the most touching narratives in the bible. What the brothers did to Joseph was evil; but God has set things right. Now, Joseph made explicit that God has directed the course of events. And in order to save the line of Jacob from total destruction, God has preserved a “remnant” to deliver Jacob’s family from famine. Faith tells us that God intervenes in our history to preserve our lives from destruction.
It should be clear that selling Joseph was a grave sin; an act willfully decided upon by his brothers. They were jealous of him for a reason. He was the favorite, the eldest son of Rachel, Jacob’s most beloved wife. Worse, he had a high opinion of himself, confident and clever. To add gasoline to the fire, he told his brothers of his dream: that one day they would soon bow to him (granted that it would be fulfilled some day, there are things we would rather leave unsaid). So when the opportune time came, his brothers took hold of him and placed him in a water cistern. They planned to kill him. But Reuben stopped them; after all he was their brother. So when a caravan came, Judah came up with an idea to sell him at twenty pieces of silver, the going rate of a slave. They had a choice NOT to sell him, but they did.
However, God can straighten what initially was askew. There are things that first began wrongly but has been corrected . We can return to its trellis a vine that went to another direction. We can guide a person whose life is going awry. We can redirect traffic. We can correct a mistake. We can rectify a bad habit. We don’t want our loved ones to be in a bad situation, but IF they are already there, we can help amend it.
Thus, to reconcile with our past, Hannah Arendt said we need forgiveness. We may ask: what if Joseph was not sold to Egypt, would his family survive the famine? My answer is simple: I don’t know, but I believe He would in some other way. He could move around things. But there are questions without clear answers. Here for example, whatever we postulate, everything would still be hypothetical. The thing is, this fact happened: his brothers sold Joseph as a slave, and now they are bowing to Joseph as prince of Egypt.
To me this is where God wants all of us to be heading: to be truly a member of God’s family. We are His children after all. Since many of us are wayward, God dreams of the time when we get to be reconciled with Him, just as Joseph and his family were reconciled to each other. To straighten our way, we need God to guide us and at the same time, we too have to cooperate with him.