Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons,
for he was the child of his old age;
and he had made him a long tunic.
When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons,
they hated him so much that they would not even greet him.
Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13A, 17B-28A
I grew up with five sisters. As teenagers, we fought about everything; barrettes, makeup, clothes, car keys, jewelry– you name it. Now that we’re older, we appreciate and even celebrate our differences. My sister Peggy is a natural designer and often sews drapes for my home. Annie calls me daily just to share a funny story or joke. Kathy is a prayer warrior and her wise counsel is never weighed lightly.
Nine years ago, it was my sisters who got me through the most difficult day of my life. On that cold day in January, we buried my twenty-three-year-old daughter. As guests began arriving at the entryway of the church, my sisters gathered around me, three on one side and two on the other. Their presence encircled me like a sunlight and I will never forget the warmth of their support.
In our reading for today, young Joseph fought with his siblings too. One fight was over a tunic, of all things! When Joseph donned the colorful coat, his brothers became jealous and threw him into a well, leaving him for dead. (Talk about sibling rivalry!)
But years later, when all the brothers were grown, a beautiful and unexpected reconciliation happened. Joseph, now the esteemed leader of Egypt, offered unconditional forgiveness to his brothers. Through his tears, Joseph told his siblings: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” Genesis 50:20.
I have yet to meet a perfect family. Most of us have at least a few issues that need some work. In the story of Joseph, we see that God can heal even the worst cases of family rivalry, jealousy or betrayal. So too, in our own family stories, God longs to mend what is broken.