Genesis 40–42, Psalm 14, Matthew 14
We pick up the story of Joseph, with him now in Egypt. As in the earlier part of the narrative, there are ups and downs. Joseph’s talent and wisdom always provoke jealousy and suspicion. So Pharaoh throws him into jail. Not long after, however, his skill as an interpreter of dreams comes into its own again, and this time he advises Pharaoh himself. The interpretation sets out a strategy enabling the Egyptians to preserve sufficient food for their needs. Then follows the moving episode of Joseph meeting with his brothers, giving them a tough time, and then relenting.
This entire narrative is part of a tapestry of “wisdom” writing that weaves in and out of the texture of the Old Testament. The psalmist picks up similar reflections, but in song form as part of the worship of God. Today’s psalm implicitly contrasts wisdom with foolishness. The fool’s lack of wisdom is rooted in lack of faith: “Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God’ ” (Psalm 14:1).
Faith and our lack of faith appear again as themes in the passage from Matthew’s Gospel. Peter sees Jesus walking toward him on the water and attempts to do the same. Peter fails, and Jesus speaks of faith in our relationship with God. Such faith allows Jesus to nourish the hungry in the classical story of the feeding of the five thousand. This also looks forward to the eucharist, to the Last Supper, and to God’s feeding of all his people. Finally, the terrifying story of the death of John the Baptist shows how the faithful servant of God endures even unto death.
Faith is at the heart of the Christian life; and the experiences of Joseph, John the Baptist, and Jesus himself tell us so much of how faith, worship, and prayer can shape our lives and the manner in which we mediate that life to others.
In which ways does the lens of faith transform our actions and attitudes in the light of these narratives?
In your reading of the Bible, where else have you encountered suffering for faith and a response to that suffering?
Open our hearts, O Lord, and give us strength under suffering and wisdom to inform our faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-The Rt. Rev. Stephen Platten
Bishop of Wakefield