A reading from the Book of Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a
Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long tunic. When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him so much that they would not even greet him.
One day, when his brothers had gone to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem, Israel said to Joseph, “Your brothers, you know, are tending our flocks at Shechem. Get ready; I will send you to them.”
So Joseph went after his brothers and caught up with them in Dothan. They noticed him from a distance, and before he came up to them, they plotted to kill him. They said to one another: “Here comes that master dreamer! Come on, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here; we could say that a wild beast devoured him. We shall then see what comes of his dreams.”
When Reuben heard this, he tried to save him from their hands, saying, “We must not take his life. Instead of shedding blood,” he continued, “just throw him into that cistern there in the desert; but do not kill him outright.” His purpose was to rescue him from their hands and return him to his father. So when Joseph came up to them, they stripped him of the long tunic he had on; then they took him and threw him into the cistern, which was empty and dry.
They then sat down to their meal. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, balm and resin to be taken down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers: “What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood? Rather, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites, instead of doing away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.” His brothers agreed. They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.
REFLECTION: "So when Joseph came up to them, they stripped him of the long tunic he had on; then they took him and threw him into the cistern, which was empty and dry."
Every betrayal begins with trust. Betrayal is probably the most devastating loss a person can experience. Seventeen year old Joseph was the beloved son of Jacob (Israel). And because of this very fact, his ten brothers were jealous of him. Did Joseph or Jacob know this before they made the decision to join the brothers tending the sheep? Was there any hint of the brothers' feelings towards Joseph? One can see this young man, obeying his father and rushing to be with his older siblings. Unfortunately, Joseph would be sold as a slave for twenty pieces of silver, be imprisoned for false accusations and be denied what was promised to him of clearing his name. For thirteen years Joseph was imprisoned. Yet, he never forsook God, but praised Him, thanked Him for His blessings and remained faithful. He lived with God and was aware of His presence. In this Old Testament account, we can see Joseph as the precursor to Jesus.
In the annals of history one can find trust/betrayal stories, some by close friends, family, clergy and teachers. Brutus betrayed Julius Caesar, the priests betray their flock, spouses cheat and lie, friends abandon you when bad things come your way, addicted family members steal from you, and teachers encourage their students to do things that are not right. Judas betrayed God. Peter betrayed God. In the struggles of our lives, have we been met with disappointment, betrayal, abandonment, losses and grief? How have we handled ourselves in these situations? Have we betrayed God?
We are told to embrace God's blessings in the midst of suffering, to stay faithful to God, to serve faithfully, and to restore relationships with repentant betrayers. Joseph forgave his brothers, Jesus forgave Peter. All that happens to us is used by God for good. Sometimes in the middle of our grief it is hard to see God but He is there. Beg for forgiveness of the many betrayals to God and His commandments. God is waiting with open arms in the confessional. This Lenten season, during our fasting, praying and almsgiving, make a good confession and be ready to receive God's blessings. God will forgive us our betrayals.
May our priests remain always in love with God and strong in their vocation. Please pray the Prayer for Priests.
God Bless You