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A Little Humility Goes a Long Way
Preparing for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost: One Day before Sunday (Year A)
Psalter: Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b
Old Testament: Genesis 37:5-11
Gospel: Matthew 16:1-4
Psalter: Psalm 85:8-13
Old Testament: 1 Kings 18:41-46
Gospel: Matthew 16:1-4
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)
Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream that I dreamed. There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.
He had another dream and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?” So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind (Genesis 37:5-11).
Joseph is spoiled. He is special and he knows it. Jacob, his father does not attempt to hide his favoritism for Joseph over his other sons. It must be difficult to know that while you may be loved by a parent, you are not loved the same. Joseph grows up knowing that he is special and he’s going to make sure that his brothers are reminded.
Joseph has two dreams and they are essentially about how Joseph’s family will one day bow down to him in homage and submission. As we continue to read the Joseph narrative in Genesis, those dreams will come true. The question is why does Joseph have to inform his family? He is not told by God to tell anyone about the dreams. Sibling rivalry can be an interesting thing. Joseph simply cannot let pass this opportunity to poke his brothers when he can.
A little humility can go a long way. The Bible speaks of the importance of humility. Paul lists humility as a virtue. Having a modest view of oneself does not diminish the fact that all persons are special in the sight of God. False humility, where we publicly refuse to accept what is true about us is not in view here. True humility offers a realistic picture of who we are. True humility recognizes our gifts and shortcomings. One must have a sense of critical self reflection that is probably hard for Joseph to do given the fact that his father at every turn seems to be highlighting his central significance over against his other sons.
And while it is true that Joseph’s dreams will be fulfilled, how much pain and suffering could have been spared Joseph and his family had Jacob’s favorite son embodied enough humility to keep his mouth shut.
Sometimes silence is golden.
PRAYER: Redeeming Sustainer, visit your people and pour out your strength and courage upon us, that we may hurry to make you welcome not only in our concern for others, but by serving them generously and faithfully in your name. Amen. (Revised Common Lectionary)
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