Homily for July 13th, 2019: 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
, which 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 his favorite son is dead. Egypt
After coming close to death in
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. Egypt
Joseph’s brothers hear that there is food in
. So they journey there and
encounter their brother at the royal court, but do not recognize him. He
immediately recognizes them, however, and invites the whole family to come to
Egypt, bringing their old father with them. Today’s first reading recounts the
old man’s death many years later. Egypt
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.