Joseph’s childhood must have been filled with an abundance of daddy love, for Israel (another name for Jacob) loved him the most of all his eleven sons. Joseph, the “master dreamer”, was Israel’s son of his old age and of his favorite (and deceased) wife Rachel. We can picture Joseph sitting on his father’s knee, bathing in father love, while Israel shared with Joseph the Word of God and the great love God had for him. Yet, Joseph also experienced pain during his childhood.
We know Joseph suffered deep wounds during his childhood, wounds that would leave many of us emotionally and spiritually injured for an entire lifetime, yet he was able to overcome them. How many of us could overcome the loss of a mother during our childhood and the deep hatred and jealousy of our 10 older brothers? And yet Joseph not only bore this pain, he rose above it in such magnificence that he would eventually perform miraculous deeds for his people. Of course, there is only one way anyone can overcome such pain – through the healing balm of God’s love. A love that Joseph learned from the tender relationship he enjoyed with his Father Israel. It was out of this love that a wisdom was born in Joseph, a wisdom that he would carry in his heart for his entire 110 years on this earth.
We know Joseph’s story. His brothers sold this little dreamer into a slavery that eventually led him into Egypt. In Egypt he escaped many snares designed to entrap him, yet he remains faithful to God – turning to God in all things. Through all his trials in Egypt (20 years), Joseph’s faith remains a constant and this faith opens the door for a multitude of heavenly blessings. Eventually Joseph would forgive his brothers and save his people from starvation. In the end, it was Joseph’s bones the Israelites carried with them as Moses led them out of Egypt all those years later. (Exodus 13:19)
To ponder the fruit’s produced by Joseph’s deep reliance upon God potentially leads us to visit our own role in God’s plan for humanity. After all, it was Joseph’s turning to God that eventually saved his people from starving. We can assume that Joseph had no idea the extent he was being used by God, all he knew was that he needed to turn to God in all things. And it was this surrender that created the space where God worked his miracles.
So what is it that Joseph had that we could benefit from? Well, Joseph had a father who loved him and shared his love of God with him. While many of us may have experienced heartache in our relationship with our own parents, it is God’s love that has the power to bring us through any trial or pain of brokenheartedness – even when it is the pain experienced from the lack of our parent’s love. After all, our parents can only give us what they have received. God’s love, however, has the power to heal whatever wounds we may carry in our heart, especially wounds that frustrate our attempts to participate in his plan for our lives.
Just as God’s love healed the wounds in Joseph’s heart, the pain of the loss of his mother and the hatred of his brothers, it too can heal our hearts so that we can participate in the birth of a better life for ourselves and those who follow us. By inviting forgiveness and acceptance into our hearts, like Joseph did, we open the door to greater love in our lives, a door that brings forth peace of heart. Once our hearts are at peace we become free to share with our children, our grandchildren and the world the plan God has for our lives – which remember is for our good.
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11
And unlike Joseph, we now have Jesus Christ, the corner-stone, living inside of us! Making it easier for us to find our way towards God’s loving embrace. God has given us his Son, offering to us an inheritance beyond all measure – an inheritance that includes a vineyard to cultivate. A vineyard for us to cultivate the fruits of joy, hope, forgiveness and of love. However, this vineyard is a lease…
Yes, God has leased to us the most beautiful of all vineyards with the condition that we produce it’s rightful fruits. We are called to participate in God’s plan and, in return, we will receive his blessings. Let us continue to pray, fast and offer almsgiving during this Lenten season so that we continue to grow in our faith and relationship with God. Let us be like Joseph, let us surrender to God and place all our trust in him. I believe God will work miracles in my family if I do so, just like he did for Joseph, and I believe he will do the same for you and yours.
Sacred heart of Jesus – have mercy on us.