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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
The story of Joseph is a delightful depiction of some moments of our religious journey. Joseph was inspired by dreams of greatness, only to find that life over and again seemed to support the conclusion that he was deluded and misguided. False accusations, time in jail, facing execution, forgotten by his friends, betrayed by his brothers, and separated from his loved ones, Joseph had every reason to doubt and wallow in self-pity. Instead, he continued to use his gift of interpreting dreams and rose to great heights. His ability to see God at work in his life, even in the midst of his trials, gave him a perspective that led to great compassion and understanding, even towards those who wanted to destroy his life. Others may intend evil, but God intends our good.
—Mark McNeil is the assistant principal for formation at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, Texas.
God of all time and places, grant me the wisdom and perspective of Joseph. Help me see beyond life’s misfortunates and find peace and rest in your good will. Amen.
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