How far does reconciliation extend? When does a right relationship reach its limits? Joseph’s story is a complicated one. He’s the subject of favoritism, resentment, betrayal, and estrangement. Yet Joseph exhibits a resilience that helps him grow despite situations that would make personal growth seem impossible. He views his journey as an opportunity to make the most of his life despite its ordeals and his separation from home.
Now aging in Egypt, Joseph gathers all of his family, including those who have wronged him, to tell them that his life is drawing to a close. How tempting it would be to replay the record of grievances that his brothers committed against him. Instead, Joseph recalls the treasured promise that God made to his great-grandfather Abraham: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing… in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:2-3).
Could this promise be what sustains Joseph through his life journey as a beloved son, despised brother, discarded slave, and royal official? Instead of condemning his brothers, Joseph recalls and pronounces the blessing embedded in his ancestry by extending it to those who have forgotten their identity as God’s people. Choosing a path of judgment and dismissal leads to pain and suffering. Offering forgiveness becomes the path to restoration and wholeness.
What promises have I received through my ancestry and life history? What might God desire for me to pass on to future generations?
God of the Church’s ancestors, thank you for being at the head of the long line of those who precede us on our journey. May we grow more grateful for the great love of yours that flows through us all. Amen.