Updated: Jan 28
Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?” So they approached Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instruction before he died, ‘Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.’ Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.
Here is another reading that may never see the light of day in a church that follows the Episcopal Lectionary. This is like lower than Track 2, as it is the third option for the Old Testament reading, as Track 2-b, in the schedule used. The only time this reading is offered is the Proper 19 Sunday, in the Year A. Good luck hearing this one in a church that only offers one service-sermon per Sunday. The best chance might be in a major cathedral, where they have so many services each Sunday that somebody might get stuck with the chore of ignoring this reading being read aloud by some lay reader; since it is common practice for Episcopal priests to only find some slim way to sew modern politics into the Gospel reading, ignoring everything else read aloud.
[This is as if God spoke, but no one in the Episcopal Church was able to hear Him say, “Remember, you tell no one what I tell you, then you take on the responsibility of everyone’s sins, simply by not telling them what I tell you.”]
This potential reading goes along with the Gospel reading from Matthew (Matthew 18:21-35) that tells, “Peter came and said to Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”
The answer to that question by Peter is stated by Joseph, who said, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.”
Relative to that good answer given, Jesus told Peter, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”
In that answer (which is in two parts, separated by a comma mark), Jesus said “Not” (a capitalized “Οὐ”), which spoke loudly to Peter asking (like Joseph asked, “Am I in the place of God?”), “Who do you think you are that you can forgive shit?” After all, Jesus had just told the disciples it was their righteous duty to confront sinners among themselves – one-on-one; three-on-one; and then if need be many-on-one.
The metaphysical answer Jesus added (relative to “seventy times seven,” which converts to seven times eleven) is beyond the comprehension of any Episcopal priest alive today. None of them know that eleven is a master number in numerology, which becomes a statement of being elevated from a two (1+1=2, where one is a soul separate from God, but 11 is a soul joined with God’s Holy Spirit). The number seven is then the symbolism of perfection, which can only come from God. Thus, Jesus said the same thing as did Joseph.
In order to get this perspective clearly, look at the parable Jesus told. A king had a slave that owed him more money than any slave could ever come by naturally back then: “[A slave] who owed [a king] ten thousand talents was brought to [the king]; and, as [the debtor slave] could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.” That becomes the legal way people forgive – by making a debtor pay in some way.
Jesus then told what happens when someone thinks he or she can forgive another’s sins or debts against God [through the one owed]: “out of pity for [the debtor slave], the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.”
So, what happened then? The asshole who had faked being sincere, crying crocodile tears, goes laughing about and finds a slave that owes him for something, demanding payment. But, when that slave begs for forgiveness, the asshole slave has him thrown in prison. That, again, was the legal way people forgave.
When some other debtor slaves saw that and knew the asshole had been forgiven his debt (a much greater number), they went and tattled to the king. The king then summoned the asshole back before him, where he told him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?” With that, the asshole-wicked slave was “handed over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt.”
Then Jesus said, “My heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
God was the king in the parable and we are His slaves, all owning Him a debt we cannot pay (as sinners in a sinful world). All we can do is beg God to forgive us of our debts [trespasses] – individually, not us begging for someone else to be forgiven for sins – and then forgiveness can come from God through us [individually] to others, but only when all brothers and sisters are related, due to God being in each of his or her hearts, all reborn as Jesus Christ.
That, my friends, is the “seventy seven” answer.
Knowing that, look closer at the reading from Genesis 50. We read that Jacob [aka Israel] is dead. All the sack of shit brothers of Joseph know what they did to him. To protect their sorry asses, they went to Joseph and made up some bullshit lie. Jacob would have told his sons to beg God for forgiveness, because he would not have wanted wicked sons to go unpunished. They all put on the same act the wicked slave did who begged the king to forgive his ten thousand talent debt. That figure (which is like Elon Musk owing more money that his Tesla stock is worth) becomes relative to the sins of having sold a brother into slavery.
Think about that. Jesus had just told his disciples to confront a brother among themselves who sinned against one (or more). You don’t forgive that shit! You don’t have any power on earth to forgive sinners from sinning. Like Joseph said, “Am I in the place of God?”
When Joseph’s brothers prostrated themselves before their younger brother and wept tears, it was all an act. When Joseph wept, it was from the pity coming from the king within him (God), felt for beggars that were full of sin. Joseph assured his sinful brothers that he would care for them and their families, even though the law said he could torture them and all their wives and children by sending them all to prison, as slaves for their debts.
That is the lesson for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, year 2020, Proper 19 Year A. It says, “Forgiveness [like Vengeance] is mine sayeth the Lord.” The people who are in the name of Jesus Christ, as seventy-seven-souls [aka Saints] with God in their hearts, prove their piety by allowing themselves to let go of all sins against them, leaving all forgiveness up to God. The lesson is like Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you” [meaning the love between Apostles and Saints, Brothers and Sisters all reborn as Jesus Christ].
Here is the funny aside about these lessons that becomes like the slaves seeing the wicked asshole slave exacting punishment on the slave that owed him debt. It is all the wicked priests of the Episcopal Church that think they are owed something by Donald J. Trump. They demand he repay his debt by expecting him to quit, leave office, die, or volunteer to go to prison, all just to make Democrats, Socialist, Communists, and Episcopal priests happy. They preach about sending him to debtors prison, promoting the election of feeble-minded Joe ‘Lifer Politician’ Biden as president, so his keepers can run roughshod over everyone they hate. They have no forgiveness within their beings, other than to forgive all who destroy and kill in the name of “protest,” pretending the police are the problem.
Who are they thinking they are God?!?! Donald J. Trump, like every other swinging-dick or swinging-tits politician in America has a debt with God that can never be repaid in this world. Jesus knows who is seventy-seven and who is short one soul for having sold it to Satan.
I expect politics (as always) will be the slant on these readings, as a November election looms on the horizon. Episcopalian priest are thinking like the brothers of Joseph, thinking they better make up a good lie that can cover their sorry asses if (God forbid!) Trump gets re-elected. Whoever gets elected simply means nothing changes – the world is where sin thrives and always is allowed to run amok. Meanwhile, priests sell their brothers who don’t think like them into slavery, but only after trying to kill them first [only finding out the mice-and-men reality of failure]. Just like the brothers of Joseph found the old ‘drown him in a cistern’ ploy didn’t work, neither does the ‘turn Scripture into hate’ tactic. Everyone is blind to the fact that only sinners play politics, so everyone is a slave around here owing somebody.
The lying brothers and sisters pretending to be prostrate before Jesus, so all their sins can be forgiven, are secretly chuckling at how easy it is to be forgiven in this world. They laugh at the goodhearted nature of Jesus, all the while plotting their next theft of another ten thousand talents, in a world that always rewards sinners. But, they always forget that God the King has many little eyes watching everything, who will come tattle to Him. So, liars beware the debt of sin!
When Joseph “reassured [his sinful brothers], speaking kindly to them,” God was chuckling inside Joseph’s mind, body, and soul. God was telling Joseph, “Give them all the rope they want, because they will hang themselves with it [similar to the death of Judas] when payment for sins comes due.”
Go ahead and hate and act like it isn’t a debt mounting; but it is.
R. T. Tippett