On Joseph and His Brothers
said to his brothers, I am Joseph! Is my father still living? But his
brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at
his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, Come close to me.
When they had done so, he said, I am your brother Joseph, the one you
sold into Egypt. And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with
yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God
sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been a famine in the
land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping.
But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth
and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father
to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now
hurry back to my father and say to him, 'This is what your son Joseph
says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don't delay.
You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me - you, your children
and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide
for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise
you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.
You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that
it is really I who am speaking to you. Tell my father about all the
honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring
my father down here quickly.Then he threw his arms around his brother
Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. (Genesis
Our capacity to know and understand, to decode and analyze bewitches
us. We imagine that we can see our life whole and clear, and know how
to act wisely. Such a capacity for clarity seduces us into being very
sure. We end up knowing exactly who we are and who God is and what God
wants. It makes us sure and often strident - frequently so sure as to
be destructive...We act as though we know fully, too fully, the mind
of Christ. Such a neat little morality does not allow for the largeness
of god's hidden way, which is more generous and more merciful than we
In the small, contained world where we live most of the time, we know
whom to trust and whom to fear, whom to love and whom to hate. We get
it all mapped out into good guys and bad guys, and everything is scheduled
and predictable. Jesus' teachings on loving our enemies are not a little
romantic lesson in feeling good about everybody and acting silly. It
is rather a rich, evangelical statement that there is more to life than
our capacity to contain it all in our little moral categories.... For,
says Jesus, if you reduce your life to the simple practice of loving
your friends and hating your enemies, of being generous only to those
you like and trust, and resistant whenever there is risk, what's the
can do that.
from Taking a Second, Painful Look