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Seeing the Good
Gospel Reflection for July 11, 2023
Today’s first reading brings to conclusion a story I mentioned in the Gospel Reflection I wrote last week (“same Bat time, same Bat channel” as you may remember if you are over a certain age and grew up watching the ultra-cheesy, campy, thoroughly ridiculous and delightful old Batman show). We discussed how the younger brother was often given what was rightfully due to the older brother in several Bible stories, and how this is a symbol of how what was promised to the Hebrew people exclusively as the chosen people of God, has been given to all through adoption in Jesus Christ. Although we were discussing a different time in the life of Joseph, this story has a similar message. Consider that Joseph was the youngest brother, and his father’s favorite. In jealousy, his older brothers sought to kill him, but finally sold him into slavery to Egypt. Yet, God would use their evil intentions to save the entire family and through them, His chosen people.
Judah approached Joseph and said: "I beg you, my lord,
let your servant speak earnestly to my lord,
and do not become angry with your servant,
for you are the equal of Pharaoh.
My lord asked your servants, 'Have you a father, or another brother?'
So we said to my lord, 'We have an aged father,
and a young brother, the child of his old age.
This one's full brother is dead,
and since he is the only one by that mother who is left,
his father dotes on him.'
Then you told your servants,
'Bring him down to me that my eyes may look on him.
Unless your youngest brother comes back with you,
you shall not come into my presence again.'
When we returned to your servant our father,
we reported to him the words of my lord.
"Later, our father told us to come back and buy some food for the family.
So we reminded him, 'We cannot go down there;
only if our youngest brother is with us can we go,
for we may not see the man if our youngest brother is not with us.'
Then your servant our father said to us,
'As you know, my wife bore me two sons.
One of them, however, disappeared, and I had to conclude
that he must have been torn to pieces by wild beasts;
I have not seen him since.
If you now take this one away from me, too,
and some disaster befalls him,
you will send my white head down to the nether world in grief.'"
Joseph could no longer control himself
in the presence of all his attendants,
so he cried out, "Have everyone withdraw from me!"
Thus no one else was about when he made himself known to his brothers.
But his sobs were so loud that the Egyptians heard him,
and so the news reached Pharaoh's palace.
"I am Joseph," he said to his brothers.
"Is my father still in good health?"
But his brothers could give him no answer,
so dumbfounded were they at him.
"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."
- Gn 44:18-21, 23b-29; 45:1-5
One of the reasons that humanity is so prone to wrong is our short-sightedness. We go through struggles, and we cannot see what will end in our good. We commit sins and cannot see that they will result in our harm. Joseph’s brothers, in jealousy meant him harm, but God turned it to good. The religious Jews and officials of Jesus’ time meant to kill him and erase His memory. God turned the evil they intended into the salvation of all mankind.
I know that many are struggling right now. Just within my own circle of friends, one is in dire financial straights, another is recovering from a terrible auto accident and several surgeries, and yet another is living in war-torn Ukraine just trying to survive day to day. In comparison, my own struggles (as difficult as they are to me) look very small. All I can do is to pray for them. What stands out to me is the faith of each. They are each seem to be praying more, with stronger faith in God’s providence than ever before, as are their families. I do not know how, but God will work everything for their good. That, is His promise. God, by definition, cannot lie. Faith is belief in things that are unseen and even beyond our ability to understand. I do not know how everything will work out, but we can trust in God’s promises. As our Lord said, not one sparrow falls without His notice, and He loves us much more!
Of course, these are not glib words. Imagine the suffering of Joseph awaiting his death, sung deep into the mud of a cistern and then being made a slave. He was likely malnourished, beaten and forced to do unpleasant work many times. The world is full of suffering right now, and always has been since the fall of man. But, “Those who endure until the end will be saved.” That, is another of God’s promises.
In the words of Saint Padre Pio, “Pray, hope and don’t worry!”
Judson Carroll is the author of several books, including his newest, Confirmation, an Autobiography of Faith. It is Available in paperback on Amazon:
His new podcast is The Uncensored Catholic https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-uncensored-catholic