Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Covetousness and righteousness: Joseph and his brothers


I never had much growing up and boy did I know it! I hear lots of stories about people growing up poor but never really knowing what that meant. That was not me. Maybe it was my personality. Maybe my perceptions. Maybe it was the way I was made to feel. Whatever it was I did not like it at all and it really shaped me as a person. Even today I struggle with covetousness with what God has given to others and not recognizing the gifts God for the gifts he has already lavished on me.

Reading the story of Joseph I read a story of jealousy and covetousness. I read a story of brothers competing for the blessing of a Father who clearly and vocally favors another. I read a story of anger and destruction because of the damage that comes from coveting what belongs to another.

I have a theory about coveting. It goes a little something like this. Apart from having no Gods before me and making no false idols, the admonition of no coveting is the most important of the ten commandments. “Why whatever do you mean Fr. Rob? I don’t think coveting is as important an issue as stealing, lying, adultery and definitely not murdering.” Oh yeah? So tell me, would you lie, steal, commit adultery and murder if you did not covet? If you truly did not covet what belonged to your neighbor you would have any need to lie, steal, lust or murder. That is it. Simple. No coveting translates into contentedness with what God has given you and joy with God’s blessing on others.

Our story of Joseph and his brothers, at one level, is the story of covetousness and the resulting destruction that inevitably follows. But in a more profound way it is the story not of covetousness, but of righteousness. It is the story of God’s amazing nature in that what Satan meant for evil (covetousness, adultery, lying, stealing) God uses for Good. All things are under God’s divine control even if evil gets inflicted upon us, God transforms it and changes it into something more amazing than we could have ever imagined. To save his family from starvation and fulfill God’s promises for descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky, God took a slave boy and made him the king’s right hand man.

If he has a plan it is going to get done. So trust in God’s plan even when everything goes to Potiphar(pun intended) and remain righteous to His purposes and promises for your life.

Tomorrow’s reflection will be on ‘What You meant for evil, God will use for Good’ and the bombings in Boston at the marathon.

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