Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.
Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem.And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” He answered, “Here I am.”The man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’“
So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”
But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.”Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him” —that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father.
So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.
Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.”
And his brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.
“The love of money is the root of all evil,” St. Paul insisted, and still it is evident today. Joseph’s brothers show just how low greed can cause us to go – killing and selling our own kin. Eventually, as we know, things work out well for Joseph and his siblings, but it’s a very long road from revenge to reconciliation! As Alice Camille wisely said, “families that learn to bury the hatchet early (not in each other!) are blessed indeed.”
But for the many people today who have experienced only fear, violence and abuse, how do they ever trust the existence of unconditional divine love? Maybe Light slips through an experience with another that ignites a hidden space deep inside each of us. A human resilience that chooses to forgive so that love can bring hope to this broken world. Just one encounter can lead us to choose love, even amidst such evil.
Who do I need to forgive … what is my first step toward reconciliation?
—Vicki Simon is the director of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps in St. Louis.
God’s gifts of reconciliation, unity and peace are inseparably linked to the grace of conversion, a change of heart which can alter the course of our lives and our history, as individuals and as a people.
Please share the Good Word with your friends!