About three weeks ago my sister wrote asking for prayers for a friend whose beloved sister had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Last night I had an email from her friend that was titled “Update” and was shocked upon opening it to find Camille’s obituary. The reality of losing a sibling came a bit closer at that moment.
This morning’s first reading (Gn:37:3-28) begins to tell the story of Joseph whose father loved him “best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age.” We all know the story of the brothers throwing Joseph into the cistern in a plot to kill him because of their jealousy but selling him instead to a passing caravan. The tables turn in the end to a happy conclusion for Joseph and – luckily for them – for his brothers. The gospel is similar but more violent as the son of a landowner is killed by tenants seeking his inheritance. (MT 21:33-46) In both stories, the expectation that perpetrators could not possibly disrespect a beloved child of a father is proved false.
I am left sitting this morning with thoughts of the complexity in human relations, mourning for Connie’s sister and for the loss that her family is experiencing and saddened that jealousy can – and does – play such a role in families even today. Whether because of money or levels of affection, personality or birth order, lives can be damaged and families fractured in many ways.
All I can do, I suppose, is offer gratitude for the harmony and love among my siblings, pray for those who have not been so blessed and take every opportunity to listen and help those who are suffering in situations of brokenness, offering them the love that is missing in their lives to the extent possible. What I know for sure is that offering my inability to solve the problems of others is a difficult surrender, a lesson still to be embraced.