Tuesday of Epiphany 7 – Genesis 45:3-15

And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.

So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry. 10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11 There I will provide for you, for there are yet five years of famine to come, so that you and your household, and all that you have, do not come to poverty.’ 12 And now your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. 13 You must tell my father of all my honor in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” 14 Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him.

A funeral brought them together. Isn’t that often the case? A childhood spent playing and fighting with one another had finally come to a terrible day when they had fought and not made up. They were brothers but lived for decades as if they had no brother. Something bitter stood between them. But then, their father died. A duty brought them to that church where they heard a sermon about God’s forgiveness for their father, where his life was remembered in the grace of God, and they each shed tears.

I suppose it could be that grief had lowered the barriers. I rather like to think it was the sermon. But that is my vanity speaking. I know it was Christ, who never gave up. But after the service they talked. They talked for a long time, for the first time in a long time. It was not all over. That would take more time. But they talked. It was the good and right beginning.

Did you see the final line of this reading? Joseph, having been sold into slavery and presumed dead was suddenly revealed to his brothers. At first, they cannot believe it. Then they are afraid, but Joseph forgives. He embraces his littlest brother, weeping. After that his brothers talked with him. I wonder what they said. Does it matter? They talked with each other. It is what brothers do and they were brothers again, no longer murderous siblings who sold one another into chattel slavery. No longer victims who had been horribly abused by others. They were brothers. They talked again.

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