August 20-All of our passages deal with the boundary line of inside and outside, center and periphery.Gen 45, Joseph finds forgiveness as he sees a design, a divine design in his suffering and in his being exalted position in the government. He tested them for a change in attitude and behavior. They who could not speak a peaceful word to him, or who could not even deign to speak with him, now converse with him. No one recognizes him, just as we sometimes do not recognize someone when they are out of the place where we normally encounter them.He greets Benjamin, the other son of the favored wife, his mother, who died in childbirth with him In the U.S. over 800 women die in childbirth every year) After all of those years of slavery, of prison, of rising to great height-the tears are of memory, of loss, of delight in seeing the brothers changed-he is able to forgive in part because he has placed it in a divine design that worked through even the worst of human behavior toward a different end.Joseph responds to Judah’s recitation of the devastating effect on Jacob for the assumed death of Joseph-Somehow he has come to forgiveness in seeing it as part of god’s providential care for the entire family- accept it as the weaving of a fabric of a life in full-He had seen a change in the brothers vis a vis Benjamin v. himself-God transformed their hatred into a mechanism for preserving life.They bring back clothes. He has switched from a focus on their terrible wrong to how /God could use a terrible wrong for a higher purpose, even when that higher purpose will help the brothers who so wronged him.Joseph weeps for a variety of reasons; all of the overwhelm him.I wonder how Joseph would have reacted if he did not detect a change in his brothers, especially in their treatment of young Benjamin (remember he is the brother whose mother, Joseph’s mother, died in childbirth). Don Henley-hear of the matter-
Mt. 15:10-28 (clean/unclean). Here Jesus would not say a word to the woman, at first.She will not be silenced. She has the courage of the desperate mother.It appears that Jesus is keeping his work within ethnic and geographical bounds. Jesus responds with an insult. She w8ill not let go. This is one of the very few times jesus is bested in a verbal joust.Here Jesus learns about ethnic favoritism in the face of God’s expansive beneficence.An outsider becomes an insider.This woman will not let go, until she receives a healing for her daughter.
Forgiveness starts with someone on the inside of our lives. They are pushed, or place themselves, on the outside of our relationship circles, but they may well occupy a large amount of psychic space within.To forgive means to widen the circle of our viewpoint beyond the wrong committed.It means to make very small the circle of revenge.
"The depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" (11:33). God is beyond human ability to know his ways. God is God. There is nothing in all creation that can call the potter into question concerning his judgments and ways.Toward other faiths as well? Has God really rejected everyone? Every day the news seems ot bring some fresh new hell.We insist on dividing ourselves up in discrete bit and pieces of our common humanity in favor of isolated shards. We can be better than that. Worship provides the ground for the path forward.