When famine spread across the land Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to look for food little knowing that his long dead son was in fact alive and in a position of authority and power in Egypt. Joseph supplied his brothers with food even though they didn’t recognise him. But Joseph knew them and he longed to see his father and his younger brother Benjamin.
When Joseph revealed who he was his brothers were at first apprehensive. Knowing how shamefully they had treated Joseph, they feared that he would now exact some terrible revenge upon them. Little did they understand Joseph’s holiness or God’s plan for them. Joseph explained to them that the whole episode of his being sold into slavery was part of God’s plan to place him in Egypt where he could save many people, including his own family, from starvation.
Joseph didn’t want revenge on his brothers. He only wanted to help because he knew that God had favoured him. In Egypt, he had risen to a position that made him practically the equal of Pharaoh himself. Joseph knew that this favour wasn’t for his own benefit. He lived the words that Our Lord would proclaim centuries later: “The gift you have received give as a gift”.
We rarely, if ever, have as clear a perception of God’s plan, as did Joseph. And yet we must in faith see how blessed we have been by God. “Count your blessings” is good advice. But we mustn’t count in the same way as a miser who only wants to hoard. Rather the gifts we have received must be given to others as a gift. Love and service freely given to others is part of the lesson we learn from the story of Joseph. It is also the command and the example of Our Lord himself.