Scripture Focus: Genesis 43.11-14; 19-23
11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. 12 Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. 13 Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. 14 And may God Almighty p grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.”
19 So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 20 “We beg your pardon, our lord,” they said, “we came down here the first time to buy food. 21 But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver—the exact weight—in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. 22 We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.”
23 “It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them
Reflection: Treasure in Our Sacks
By John Tillman
The brothers tried to pay for the grain from Egypt. Their silver ended up back in their sacks. When headed back to Egypt for more, they feared a misunderstanding.
Before they left, Jacob helped prepare a special offering of local products and things not commonly available in Egypt. Ever the schemer and diplomat, Jacob hoped these offerings would smooth things over with the harsh-tongued man his sons feared. Little did Jacob know that he had made a gift basket for his own lost son. It is hard to imagine that Joseph did not feel pangs of homesickness when he saw these familiar gifts.
We, at times, come to God as if he is a harsh-tonged bureaucrat with whom we must curry favor. We pack up our purest silver. We throw in our unique, most personal niceties. We put our best foot forward. We come to God with the false belief that we must buy blessings from him and the false pride that we have the means with which to do it.
When we do this we are making several key miscalculations.
We underestimate our need. Our spiritual famine is as destructive as the one that struck Egypt. Like the cows and the corn, our good deeds are eaten up by the horrors of our sins.
We overestimate our offerings. All the resources of Egypt could not outlast the famine. All the resources we can muster will never finish the job of covering our sins.
We underestimate God’s love. Just as Jacob had no idea of the deep love that Joseph bore toward him and his family, we do not fully comprehend God’s love for us. We have misidentified him as a harsh and vengeful ruler.
We underestimate God’s generosity. Like Joseph, Jesus doesn’t accept our payments, he suffered and made our payment in full. Not only that, he will give us more than we asked for. Rather than just a few bites to survive on, he will see us planted and flourishing in the best part of the land.
Focusing on the cross and seeing what Christ gave up for us is the best way to keep the depths of God’s love in mind. May we remember that we have no righteousness to bring, but in mercy, God will give us righteousness, like treasure in our sacks.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves. — Psalm 126.6-7
– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle
Genesis 43 (Listen – 5:02)
Mark 13 (Listen – 4:32)
Read more about The Undeserved Banquet of the Gospel
We, the undeserving, motley, scandalous louts that we are, find ourselves with our feet under Christ’s table. Christ invites all to the banquet.
Read more about The Ram and the Cornerstone
May we not reject the stone of suffering, of sacrifice, of self-control, or of truth.