Lent Day Seventeen

Genesis 44 and 45: Joseph and his brothers meet in Egypt.

Zornberg, commenting on Gen42:21-23

Joseph "for the first time, hear[s] them, as they remember their deafness to Joseph's cries from the pit.

and, she continues (307)... "This has not, apparently, been a listening family."
Joseph understands (hears) "his brothers' apalled memory of their refusal to understand and accept him. Acceptance means allowing the other - strange, singular as he is - into one's heart: the brothers speak not of active cruelty - murder, the sale of Joseph - but of a negation, a blankness, where acceptance should have been.

As Joseph hears his brothers recognize what was not in the past, an overwhelming emotion wells up in him...." (42:24) "...He has to turn away from them to hide his outburst of tears."

(307) This is the first of three occasions on which Joseph weeps... In fact, Joseph sheds most of the tears in Genesis;...[Jacob and Esau]... "From them Joseph learns to weep - the irrational collapse of tears, the genuine, unassimilated force of that flow."

Each time he weeps, something opens up in him, an unplanned response, which is at first a mere parenthesis, as he turns away and then turns back to his tyrannical role. In the course of that 'parenthesis,' he knows himself lost and remembered by his brothers. As they speak of what was not in the past, a new relationship is suggested, woven of regret, empathy, loss...."

'We have done what we ought not to have done, and left undone those things that we ought to have done...'

Pray to be able to hear and to understand, to read and to digest...

and tonight (on the ABC Religion report Sunday 14th March 2004) I heard a Buddhist nun say that it is necessary to be quiet, silent, in order to hear god speaking.