If you are following the Daily Office Lectionary, you have been reading the story of Joseph in the Hebrew Bible. Today my brief Lenten reflection will focus on the sale of Joseph into slavery….
When they sat down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with camels carrying sweet resin, medicinal resin, and fragrant resin on their way down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers, “What do we gain if we kill our brother and hide his blood? Come on, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites. Let’s not harm him because he’s our brother; he’s family.” His brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern. They sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, and they brought Joseph to Egypt.
When Reuben returned to the cistern and found that Joseph wasn’t in it, he tore his clothes. Then he returned to his brothers and said, “The boy’s gone! And I—where can I go now?”
His brothers took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a male goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the long robe, brought it to their father, and said, “We found this. See if it’s your son’s robe or not.”
He recognized it and said, “It’s my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him. Joseph must have been torn to pieces!” Then Jacob tore his clothes, put a simple mourning cloth around his waist, and mourned for his son for many days. All of his sons and daughters got up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted, telling them, “I’ll go to my grave mourning for my son.” And Joseph’s father wept for him.Meanwhile the Midianites had sold Joseph to the Egyptians, to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s chief officer, commander of the royal guard.
Common English Bible (CEB)
How painful it must have been for Joseph to be sold by his kin. Jealously and envy had ceased his brothers. They had already tossed him aside. Now they would prophet from his disappearance. I cannot imagine the depths of despair for Joseph. No doubt he was different from his brothers. His dreams were unusual. Their father showed him special attention, and his colourful coat certainly made him stand out. But he was one of them. He was one with them. At this point, in this story, Joseph has to deal with the stark reality that he has been cast off by his own brothers. His heart and spirit had to be broken. Despair sets in. Then what? Does despair get the last word? Does he spend his life drinking the bitterness of those tears of betrayal?
Over the days ahead the rest of this story will unfold and [spoiler alert] we will read about Joseph’s incredible journey, his struggles, the heights that he will reach, and his forgiveness he will offer to his brothers. We will read about how very wise Joseph becomes.
Cornel West writes:
“Wisdom comes from wrestling with despair and not allowing despair to have the last word. That’s why hope is always blood-stained and tear-soaked. The fundamental question for the wise person is: How do we wounded and scarred creatures choose to be wounded-healers, not wounded-hurters, or scarred helpers, not scarred playhaters? And hope gives us strength to try to have it so — to try to keep struggling for more love, more justice, more freedom…. For me as a Christian — since Jesus dropped the charges at the cross — I choose to be a free black man who is willing to live and die for truth and justice, love, and democracy regardless of what the world gives or takes away!”
Henri Nouwen Writes:
Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not “How can we hide our wounds?” so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but “How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?” When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.
Jesus is God’s wounded healer: through his wounds we are healed. Jesus’ suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; his rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.
“Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.”
Today I will reflect on my own wounds.
Today I will ask myself if the bitterness and pain of betrayals have ceased my heart.