We have been reading the story of Joseph since the first Monday in Lent. We conclude that story today, 14 chapters and four and half weeks later. It is an incredibly long story about one individual, for Scripture. A fairly well known one too, with a Broadway musical having been made from this story.
After Jacob dies in Egypt and is taken home, in our concluding verses today, Joseph's brothers start to worry that he will punish them for their act of betrayal many years before. They concoct a lie about Jacob telling them to tell Joseph to promise that he will treat them well. Joseph breaks down in tears, and the brothers, realizing Joseph has seen through their lies, break down as well and apologize, and all is well. They still did not see, nor understand, Joseph's heart and good will, even after he had treated them so well, cared for them, during the long years of famine.
In a similar way, the disciples in our passage from Mark today still do not understand what Jesus has been preaching/teaching. Jesus walks away from an argument with the Pharisees today and alludes to the Pharisees' teachings as yeast and something to stay away from, and the disciples start talking about bread. You can almost hear Jesus sigh in frustration: after all this time, after all the miracles, after all the lessons, still you don't see? You are still trying to be literal with me?
I wonder how frustrated Jesus would be with us - for all of us can act like his disciples at times, just being dense. All of us can act like Joseph's brothers, losing the big picture because of self-interest. The challenge today from these readings is for us to consider where we are being too narrow-minded, too narrowly focused, too literal. What is the bigger picture we are missing?
Copyright 2012, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: Station #7, jfd+, 2012