Have you ever noticed how The Old Testament and the New Testament present us time after time with family conflict and betrayal? Take for example the O.T. story of Jacob’s son, Joseph, and the betrayal by his 11 brothers. Joseph’s brothers hated him and were jealous because he was his father’s favored son; the brothers plot to kill Joseph, but instead throw him in a well to die. Joseph never fights his brothers but remains docile and faithful to God even in the face of the betrayal. Joseph was captured, sold and brought to Egypt where he would become a famous governor of the Pharaoh. Joseph’s trust and docility to God brought about the benefit of enjoying a higher standard of life. He lived out his covenant with God with complete trust, which gave him the courage and humility to restore a lifelong friendship with his brothers, rather than to exact revenge on them and allow them to die from famine. This Scripture passage from Genesis mirrors the N.T. Gospel passage of the betrayal of Jesus by the Pharisees; jealous of the attention that Jesus is receiving, they plot to kill Jesus. They conspire with one of his own disciples to help sell Jesus to the Jews for a few pieces of silver, where he eventually is sentenced to death. Jesus submitted to their hatred and remained docile to God. He never took revenge against the Pharisees although like Joseph, he had the power to do so. He forgave all of them, with his last breath saying,
“Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
Joseph and his brother’s life together ended happily by means of their reconciliation with one another. It doesn’t always end happily though. Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, never went to the cross to ask Jesus for his forgiveness, but instead, fell into despair. Towards the end, when Jesus was dying, the centurion came to know that Jesus was the Son of God, and would realize that he too had a hand in the ‘ultimate betrayal’. It was at the moment of Jesus’ death, when the curtain was torn in the sanctuary and darkness came over the earth and shook, that he acknowledged his role. Though contrite and having made a powerful statement of faith, he had to have regretted not speaking sooner. Ronda Chervin, a professor of theology and philosophy says that, “When human love has been betrayed, it is not enough to feel contrite. One must also say so, promise to change, and then receive the forgiveness of the other.” The sting of deception can potentially take away a piece of ourselves and it can harden our hearts; we become less vulnerable, less loving and compassionate, as we question, how someone could be that cold. It is hard to forgive those who have betrayed us. We must, like Joseph and Jesus, call on God to give us the courage to be vulnerable and to take the step to bring about a resolution. Take courage and hurry! Time is of the essence! Join us this week Monday 3/5 and Tuesday 3/6 at 7pm in the Main Church for our Parish Lenten Mission featuring Scripture Scholar Dr. Stephen Fahrig as we explore forgiveness and its obstacles.