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Most of us know the story of Joseph and his brothers. This is the Joseph of “the coat of many colors” whose brothers were very jealous of him and the love that his father had for him. They were so jealous, the story goes, that they stripped him of that coat, threw him into a cistern and then sold him into slavery to a passing caravan. As we know, what goes around comes around, and in time, Joseph became counselor to the pharaoh and “all the world came to Joseph to obtain grain” during the ensuing famine.

This story is so very heart-rending in that when his brothers stood before Joseph, not recognizing him, he could not hold their jealousy and smallness against them, because of his love—primarily his love for his father. He was also aware of his role in the history of the people as he said to them, “It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.”

This morning I came upon a reflection by Renee Yann, RSM (Religious Sisters of Mercy) that spoke of the quality of mercy, that fierce, bonding love that would not allow Joseph to hold his brothers accountable when he was face to face with them. I repeat it here for your pondering.

Praying Psalm 33 reminds me that one can never demand mercy. We cannot require the other to hold us in continual compassion. We can only hope and be grateful. Mercy is the gift of a heart moved beyond itself by love and tenderness. Such outpouring is the very nature of God in whose image we were created. Thus, for God, and for us, to be unmerciful is to be unnatural. In Psalm 33 we pray not only to receive mercy but to become mercy.”

May we all come to know the quality of mercy in our lives and disperse it as if sowing seeds in our earthly garden.