The reading from Genesis contains the dramatic moment when Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his own brothers, is reunited with them perhaps decades later in the land of Egypt. He has risen to power and they are at Joseph’s mercy, but his attitude is one of gracious mercy based upon his faith in God mysterious workings for good.
In the passage from Luke, Jesus is recorded as asking us to be as gracious as Joseph towards his treacherous brothers. Loving, blessing, doing good and praying for enemies and abusers? Not retaliating when injured or insulted? Being generous even to those who wrongly take from you? Jesus says, “Do not judge…forgive.” Then comes a promise: “The measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
Paul continues to teach the Corinthian church about the significance of resurrection in this 15th chapter. In contrast to our perishable material lives, he describes the gift of a life that is imperishable, raised in glory and power. This is a spiritual reality – not a promise of never ending and trouble free material existence. The working of God, as seen in Christ’s own resurrection, is to create in us a life and growth that is comparable to the transformation of a tiny seed into a plant that springing up towards the sun.
Comment: Life is NOT fair and no system of human government is able to “fix” this reality. Some suffer much more than others, and all suffer something. We all are capable of great good, but also do harm, even if unknowingly. How do we make our way through all of this? Jesus offers a radically simple basis for life: God is good, and can always be trusted. I cannot imagine the profound trust in God that allowed Joseph to forgive and reconcile with the brothers who so horribly betrayed him and literally wished him dead. Yet through all the trials he passed in slavery, he was given the grace to see the good work of God to “preserve life.” Jesus, as he suffers a horrible and unjust death, asks forgiveness for those who placed him there. He looks at me now and says, “Follow me.” How can I hope to do this? Only by the gift of God’s own spirit which is given me.
David S. Robinson, Rector
Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Church
Maple Glen, PA 19002