12 July 2007 Thursday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time Genesis 44: 18-21, 23b-29, 45:1-5 People change
People change. The first reading tells us of Judah, the brother of Joseph. Upon returning with his brothers to the palace, afraid of what might befall them when Joseph’s steward found his silver goblet in Benjamin’s sack (which we know Joseph planted), Judah approached Joseph with a speech. He then said, “If then the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, whose very life is bound up with his, he will die as soon as he sees that the boy is missing; and your servants will thus sent the white head of our father down to the nether world in grief. Besides, I, your servant, got the boy from his father by going surety for him saying, ‘If I fail to bring him back to you, father, you can hold it against me forever.’ Let me, your servant, therefore, remain in place of the boy as the slave of my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. How could I go back to my father if the boy were not with me? I could not bear to see the anguish that would overcome my father” (Genesis 44, 31-34).
Twenty years earlier, it was Judah who proposed without remorse, “Here comes that master dreamer! Come on, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here; we could say that a wild beast devoured him. We shall then see what comes of his dreams.” (Genesis 37, 19-20). Then Judah said, “What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood? Rather, let us sell him to these traders instead of doing away with him ourselves” (Genesis 37, 26-27).
In the reading, Judah is now pleading for his youngest brother’s life.
Secondly, he was pleading on behalf of his aging father. Earlier, he did not care how his father would think and feel at the loss of his son, Joseph. Sure, they were Rachel’s sons, thus, Jacob’s favorites. But, by selling Joseph to traders, he would indirectly and cruelly hurt his aging father.
Now, Judah is sacrificing his life for Benjamin and his father. In effect, he says, “Send Benjamin to my father. I cannot bear to see the grief of my father for losing his favorite son. Take me instead of him.”
People change, including Joseph. He was arrogant: “There will come a time, when all of you will bow before me!” Even if it was a dream interpretation, a prudent person would not say this to anyone. And in a time when his dream is being fulfilled, with all of his brothers bowing to him, Joseph could retaliate or avenge himself. When we are in an opportunity to get even, we usually take the chance.
But Joseph didn’t. The arrogant teenager has changed. He said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt. But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. I was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.”
People change. Have you?