Today’s readings focus on the themes of forgiveness, mercy, and healing. I was especially struck by the story of Joseph – although just a small portion here – the entire story is one of trust and faith and incredible forgiveness. The connection of all three readings for me lies in the need to forgive and have mercy if we are to be forgiven and be shown mercy. Only then, will we be able to experience healing.
The first reading tells the story of Joseph – we join the story after Joseph has endured punishment and ill treatment but he is now in a place of power and privilege. Joseph uses that power and privilege wisely and even as he recognizes his brothers who sold him into slavery, he does not seek retribution. Oh, he definitely plays them a bit and allows them to squirm with the consequences of their actions. The last line of this section is most telling: . . .but turning away from them, he wept. Joseph is moved by seeing his brothers again and in a later section has a tearful reunion. Throughout his ordeals, Joseph receives the grace of God in numerous ways even as a prisoner. His gift of being able to interpret dreams provides him opportunities beyond compare. I love the story because it is so full of hope and “happy endings.” Perhaps, because there seems to be so many negative stories these days, that this story is so uplifting to me. It affirms the grace and mercy of God and the importance of forgiveness. It also affirms that with faith and doing the “right thing,” untold wonderful outcomes can be expected. Perhaps not always in ways we understand but always in ways as they should be.
We are reminded that the plans of the Lord stand forever but our plans may be foiled. I remember hearing once that people plan and God laughs. Somehow, we got a notion that we can be in charge! Certainly, we have the opportunities to make choices and decisions. If those choices are true to ourselves and our relationship with God, we can’t go wrong.
Once again, I’m awed that I need to reflect upon readings that are just what I need to hear. There are some situations that require my forgiveness and I’ve heard loud and clear that I need to willingly do that with an open and merciful heart. By letting go of any resentments I have about these situations, I will free my self from the burden of carrying them. Forgiving does not mean that the consequences of the actions are still not appropriate. I think about Pope John Paul II forgiving the man, Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot him yet that did not lessen the just punishment of the assassin. Thus, being forgiven does not liberate the perpetrator from the “crime,” it liberates the victim. A message I need to hold close to my heart. Similarly, a song I’ve been hearing over and again catches the moment and the desire. The chorus from Jimmy Needham’s song, Forgiven and Loved:
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