Friday, July 14, 2017

"GOD MEANT IT FOR GOOD."


Homily for July 15th, 2017: Genesis 49: 29-33; 50: 15-24.

          “Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good.” These words from our first reading belong to the story of Joseph in Egypt, we have been hearing for several days now. The youngest of many brothers, Joseph was his father’s favorite. Understandably jealous, his older brothers sell him into slavery in Egypt and tell their heart-broken father that the boy is dead.

          After coming close to death in Egypt, Joseph rises to become the second most powerful man in the kingdom, after the ruler, Pharaoh. Anticipating a widespread famine, Joseph fills storehouses with grain, which is made available when famine strikes.

          Joseph’s brothers journey to Egypt in search of food and encounter their brother at the royal court, but do not recognize him. He immediately recognizes them, however, and invites them to come to Egypt, bringing their old father with them. Today’s first reading recounts the old man’s death many years later.

          Fearful that with their father no longer alive to protect them, Joseph will take revenge for their treatment of him years ago. They tell Joseph that their father had instructed them to beg for forgiveness once their father was dead. This they do, as we heard in the reading, in the most abject manner.

          This gives Joseph an opportunity to demonstrate his spiritual goodness by speaking the words quoted at the outset: “Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good.” He tells his brothers to “have no fear.” He cannot take the place of God by taking vengeance on them.

          It is a moving and beautiful story. God can bring good out of evil, the story tells us. And he does so, time and time again – never more dramatically than, centuries later, when the crime of Jesus’ crucifixion is overruled by God through his Son’s resurrection on the third day.