Friday, March 01, 2013

Holding On

Today's reading recounts part of the story of Joseph:

Book of Genesis 37:3-4.12-13a.17b-28. Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long tunic. When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him so much that they would not even greet him. One day, when his brothers had gone to pasture their father's flocks at Shechem, Israel said to Joseph, "Your brothers, you know, are tending our flocks at Shechem. Get ready; I will send you to them." "I am ready," Joseph answered. They noticed him from a distance, and before he came up to them, they plotted to kill him. They said to one another: "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." When Reuben heard this, he tried to save him from their hands, saying: "We must not take his life. Instead of shedding blood," he continued, "just throw him into that cistern there in the desert; but don't kill him outright." His purpose was to rescue him from their hands and restore him to his father. So when Joseph came up to them, they stripped him of the long tunic he had on; then they took him and threw him into the cistern, which was empty and dry. They then sat down to their meal. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, balm and resin to be taken down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers: "What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood? Rather, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites, instead of doing away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh." His brothers agreed. They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. Some Midianite traders passed by, and they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and took him to Egypt.  Daily Gospel
Joseph could have despaired and given up on God.  Sold into slavery by his own brothers, who actually wanted to kill him; far away from his family, his country, his father; wrongly accused, thrown into prison, it seemed like God had forgotten him.  How could he know that all this had to happen in order for him to save his family from starvation one day and ensure that future generations of the people of Israel would be born?  He couldn't have known.  It is only ever in hindsight that we realize that the intolerable situations in our lives had to happen in order for some good to take place.

So if you are in the pit of despair, take courage from the story of Joseph.  Some day, in hindsight, you will look back on today and know, this had to happen, it was going somewhere, you just didn't know where.  Like Frodo and Sam, we are holding onto the fact that there's some good in this world, and that it's worth fighting for.