The readings for the Daily Office during this Lent include the story of the betrayal of Joseph by his brothers. Joseph, you will recall, is the favorite son of Jacob. A youthfully arrogant young man of immense spiritual gifts, he becomes the victim of family infighting and is sold into captivity as a slave. Jacob is devastated, the brothers are left in a pool of guilt, and Joseph finds himself reduced from the status of favorite son to surviving by his wits. Ironically, he rises to leadership in the court of pharaoh while his blood family suffers the blight of severe famine. One might be tempted to think of this story in terms of judgment for evil deeds providing us with an edge of satisfaction at the fate of the family. But this is a story about God and God’s dealings with human beings and the story concludes with a deeply moving reconciliation. The brothers flee to Egypt to find food and, in rediscovering their brother, repent. Joseph points out that God has taken these events and made what seemed irredeemably sinful into a source of real salvation for them all.
As we move forward this Lent, it is a story well worth telling. All of us can point to parts of our lives that are broken or lost. In the story of Joseph, we learn nothing falls outside the power of God to redeem. Even when a good outcome seems impossible, God’s love will win in the end. God had worked in the hearts of the brothers and of Joseph until there was nothing left to proclaim except love born out of their regret – and God took that and used it for their good and the good of all Israel as Joseph provides for all the Israelites effected by famine.
We are reminded again that God’s truth is not our truth. God’s truth is larger and more generous than we can ever imagine, but it is a truth to be trusted and hoped for in the midst of the trials and hardships of life. “Be gracious,” we pray in the collect this morning, “to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word.”
The Rev. Susan N. Eaves