Week of Proper 9: Thursday, Year 1   14 comments

Above:  Gallery of the Apostles, Temmenhausen, Nikolauskirche, Bergische Gladbach, Germany

Image in the Public Domain

Grace:  Pass It On

JULY 13, 2023


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Genesis 44:18-45:5 (An American Translation):

Then Judah went back to him [Joseph], and said,

If you please, my lord, let your servant speak a word in the ear of my lord, and  your anger not blaze against your servant; for you are the equal of Pharaoh himself.  My lord asked his servants, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’  And we said to my lord, ‘We have an aged father, and a young brother, the child of his old age; his brother is dead, so that he alone is left of mother’s children, and his father loves him.’  Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me that I may see him.’  But we told my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; his father would die if he were to leave him.’  Whereupon you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you cannot have audience with me again.’

When we went back to your servant, my father, we reported to him the words of my lord.  Then our father said, ‘Go again and buy a little food for us.’  But we said, ‘We cannot go down; if our youngest brother accompanies us, we can go down; for we shall not be allowed to have audience with the man unless our youngest brother is with us.’  Then your servant, my father, said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me only two children; then one of them left me, and I think that he must surely have been torn to pieces; for I have never seen him since.  If then you take this one with me too, and harm befall him, you will bring down my gray hairs to Sheol in trouble.’

And now, when I rejoin your servants, my father, and the boy not with us, his life is so bound up with the boy’s that will die when he sees that there is no boy, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant, our father, to Sheol in sorrow; for your servant went suretly for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, let my father blame me for it all my life.’  Now then, pray let your servant remain in the boy’s place as my lord’s slave, but let the boy go back with his brothers; for how can I go back to my father unless the boy is with me, and witness the agony that would come to my father?’

Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, so he cried out,

Have everyone withdraw from me.

So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers; but he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and Pharaoh’s household heard it.  Joseph said to his brothers,

I am Joseph.  Is my father still living?

But his brothers could not answer him, because they were so dismayed at being in his presence.  So Joseph said to his brothers,

Come nearer to me.

When they came nearer, he said,

I am your brother Joseph whom you sold into Egypt.  Now do not be distressed nor angry with yourselves that you sold me here….

Psalm 105:7-21 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

7 He is the LORD our God;

his judgments prevail in all the world.

8 He has always been mindful of his covenant,

the promise he made for a thousand generations:

9 The covenant he made with Abraham,

the oath that he swore to Isaac,

10 Which he established as a statute for Jacob,

and everlasting covenant for Israel,

11 Saying, “To you will I give the land of Canaan

to be your allotted inheritance.”

12 When they were few in number,

of little account, and sojourners in the land,

13 Wandering from nation to nation

and from one kingdom to another,

14 He let no one oppress them

and rebuked kings for their sake,

15 Saying, “Do not touch my anointed

and do my prophets no harm.”

16 Then he called for a famine in the land

and destroyed the supply of bread.

17 He sent a man before them,

Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

18 They bruised his feet in fetters;

his neck they put in an iron collar.

19 Until his prediction came to pass,

the word of the LORD tested him.

20 The king sent and released him;

the ruler of the peoples set him free.

21 He set him as a master over his household,

as a ruler over all his possessions.

Matthew 10:7-15 (An American Translation):

[Jesus said to his disciples,]

And as you go about, preach and say, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!’  Cure the sick, raise the dead, heal lepers, drive out demons.  Give without payment, just as you received without payment.  Do not take gold or silver or copper money in your purses, and do not take a bag for your journey, nor two shirts, nor shoes, nor a staff, for the workman deserves his food!  Whatever town or village you come to, inquire for some suitable person, and stay with him till you leave the place.  And as you go into his house, wish it well.  If the house deserves it, the peace you wish it will come over it, but if it does not deserve it, let your blessing come back upon yourselves.  And where no one will welcome you, or listen to you, leave that house or town and shake off its very dust from your feet.  I tell you, the land of Sodom and Gomorrah will fare better on the Day of Judgment than that town.


The Collect:

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Freely you have received; freely give.

–Matthew 10:8b, Translated by William Barclay

I got slightly ahead of the story from Genesis in the previous day’s devotional post.  That is fine, for, in so doing, I made a pertinent point.  Here, in this post, we have the great reveal:  Joseph tells his brothers who he is then forgives them to their faces.  Joseph had received grace freely; freely he extended it to his brothers.

This is one of the great scenes from the Bible.  Joseph had been through varieties of hell on earth due to the jealousy of brothers.  Yet this evil intent let to Joseph being in place to save Egypt, complete with foreign strangers, and his family members, including said brothers.  It all worked out well in the end.  Holding a grudge against the brothers would have hurt them, but it would have caused greater spiritual injury to Joseph.

Letting go is often hard to do.  Believe me, I know this well.  As I write these words, I feel unpleasant emotions when thinking of the names of certain people.  They did serious harm to me in 2006, putting me through academic hell.  But they are beyond my reach, and their own karma will catch up with them in time unless they change their ways, just as mine will pursue me unless take a route other than anger and fantasies of revenge.  I have decided to have nothing to do with what happens to them, not even to mention their names here.  It is a safe course, and my anger has been fading for years, by grace.    One day I might even find cause to thank them, out of recognition of the fact that what they did put me on the road to something far better than my original destination.

The Twelve Apostles  received grace freely.  So Jesus instructed them to impart it freely.  Is this not how we ought to act toward each other?  Indeed, it is.  This can prove controversial, depending upon the identityof the beneficiary or the recipient.  Consider the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  Samaritans were half-breeds and heretics.  Many respectable Jews of Jesus’ time spoke of Samaritans in disparaging terms.  Yet a Samartian was the hero of the story, and the respectable religious figures did nothing to help.  I suppose that, if Jesus were telling that parable today in the North American context, he would speak of the Good Illegal Immigrant.  Would not that scandalize many people?  So did the concept of a Good Samaritan in Jesus’ time.

Grace is scandalous.  It prevents us from getting what we deserve or what others think we deserve.  We, of course, like this when grace spares us.  But we tend to take great offense when it rescues someone we do not like, with whom we disagree strongly, or someone we otherwise consider unworthy.  I guarantee that someone considers me unworthy of grace, and that somebody has the same opinion of you, O reader.  All of us are unworthy, of course, but God extends grace anyway.  Should we not just be grateful for it and look for ways to treat people kindly?



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