The appointed Old Testament reading for today is taken from Genesis where we read about the destructive nature of jealously within a family:
Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.
When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes. He returned to his brothers, and said, ‘The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?’ Then they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. They had the long robe with sleeves taken to their father, and they said, ‘This we have found; see now whether it is your son’s robe or not.’ He recognized it, and said, ‘It is my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.’ Then Jacob tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son for many days. All his sons and all his daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, ‘No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.’ Thus his father bewailed him. Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard. (Gen. 37:25-36)
How many times have we witnessed or experienced the terribly destructive nature of jealousies in our families. Brothers selling their own brother into a life of slavery because they are jealous of him. Father separated from son and lied to by his own children thinking that his son is dead. Unfortunately, this happens quite frequently in families. God is well aware of our fallen nature. I for one am thankful that our God is a God who is just, but who has great mercy. God has a way of taking our weaknesses and bringing good out of them. He did that in the case of Joseph and his family. At the end of the Book of Genesis, Joseph, relying on God as his source of strength and life, says: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Gen. 50:20.
Lord God, we know that you can bring goodness out of our own petty jealousies. Give us the grace to always love one another as You love us. Amen.
Your servant in Christ,
Fr. Chester J. Makowski+
St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550