Friday, 5 March 2010

'Behold this Dreamer Cometh . . . Let us slay him'

This call by Joseph's brothers with reference to him (Genesis 37:19-20), seems to me today as fresh as it was when it was first uttered. To be Christ-like in today's world involves situations in which our values and actions are often at variance with the voice of the majority, and sometimes that of force. Like Joseph, we too have our dreams which often touch the lives of those around us and pose a threat to the status quo - especially when we knowingly or unknowingly project ourselves as better than others (Gen 37:7-9), or report them to the authorities (Gen 37:2).

We are all familiar with the feelings of hate and envy of Joseph's brothers (Gen 37: 4). Joseph was gifted. He was the interpreter of dreams - a gift which he had and they did not. They felt threatened and inferior. So they conspired against him and decided to kill him. It was as simple - as it often is today.

Like Judah, we see many today who befriend others not out of any intrnsic affection, but in terms of their utilitarian value. Like Joseph who is first sold to the Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of silver (Gen 37: 28), then via the Midianites, sold again in Egypt to Potiphar, we circulate as currency in the market of our time, sometimes signifying less, sometimes more. Even Jesus did not escape this. Only, the price was hiked by 10 more pieces of silver.

In today's world of increasing violence we need to listen to God's word and not just hear it. In this world there are the Josephs, the Reubens, and the Judahs and oftentimes we have been each of these in varying degrees. Like Joseph's 'coat of many colours,' (Gen 37:3) we also have different persona. In its divergent voices Genesis 37 calls us to clarify our intentions and renew our faith.

Published in Renavacao, the Pastoral bulletin of the Archdiocese of Goa, Panjim, Goa; vol 27.6, March 16-31, 1997; painting by Velazquez.

Uploaded today to commemorate the same reading from Genesis 37 for today's Lenten Mass.

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