Genesis 41:55-57; 42:5-7a, 17-24a
The story of Joseph and his brothers is one of the best known of the Old Testament. Most of us are familiar with the boy who brags to his brothers and their treatment of him. And we know how from that horrendous beginning, great things happen to Joseph. As with so much of scripture, there is much of value to mine here. One lesson we learn from today’s reading from Genesis is found in the last lines, “but turning away from them, he wept.” Why do you think he wept? In fact, Joseph was quite a weeper. This was only one of several times we find Joseph in tears. He cries again when he sees his younger brother, and when he sees his father, and when his brothers repent. Weeping is a very human response from a heart filled with emotion. Perhaps, in this instance, he was saddened by seeing his brothers and thinking of the life he missed, or perhaps he cried from joy at seeing his family, or perhaps he cried because he had been bitter about what his brothers did to him and when he saw them, he realized his bitterness might not be warranted. I rather hope this was the reason for his tears because it makes him even more human. And yet God loves him.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus commissions the twelve Apostles. Throughout the New Testament, we learn of the humanity of these men who Matthew names and who Jesus loves and trusts with continuing his mission. They are from varied backgrounds. They doubt, question, argue, and betray. They are human. And Jesus loves them. So here’s the thing, if Joseph in his humanity was so loved by God and the Apostles in their humanity were so loved by Jesus, we can believe that we too are loved by God. When we have reacted to a situation with a human but perhaps not so wise choice, when we do things we later regret, we can know that indeed, we are loved. We can know that God embraces us in our humanity, in our weaknesses, in the bad times as well as the good. May you be filled with this love that God showers on us and may you proclaim that love wherever you go this day.
Mary Lou Butler is a long-time friend and partner in ministry to the Passionists in California.