Readings: Lectionary Year A, Proper 19
Genesis 50.15-21 – Joseph continues to forgive his dishonest brothers
Romans 14.1-12 – Paul writes of respecting others’ consciences
Matthew 18.21-35 – Jesus commands unending forgiveness
Joseph and his family, St. Remigius, Water Newton, by Clayton & Bell
Clockwise from top left: Joseph’s brothers don’t recognize him, Joseph’s ruse to keep Benjamin, Joseph & his brothers are reconciled, Joseph meets Jacob.
Does the image help convey the tensions in Joseph’s family, and explain his brothers’ fears? Look how the characters are placed with respect to each other.
Some thoughts on the readings
– Joseph was able to see beyond the hurt inflicted on him by others and glimpse God at work.
– In Jesus’ parable, 100 denarii would have been 3 months wages for a labourer: a significant sum, but completely negligible compared to 10,000 talents – roughly £10 billion at today’s prices.
– It is often very hard to understand the practices of those who differ from us, especially within the church. Paul tells the Romans this is a vital part of living out Jesus’ command to love our neighbour.
Suggestions for further Bible reading
Psalm 9 – A hymn to God’s righteous judgement
Leviticus 25:1-17 – Rules for preventing inter-generational debt and dispossession among the people of Israel.
John 20:15-19 – Peter, thinking his denial has completely broken his relationship with Jesus, finds he’s forgiven, and is commissioned afresh.
What other Bible passages come to mind when you read today’s readings?
Points for Prayer
– Give thanks for God’s forgiveness of our sins, which goes immeasurably further than even the most sacrificial human forgiveness.
– Pray for people whose opinions you find difficult to deal with. Ask God for grace, wisdom, and understanding in your relationships with them.
– Pray for those whose poverty leaves them trapped and exploited. Ask God to bring justice and compassion in the financial services industry.
Points for Action
– Is there someone who owes you a debt – money, favour, time, or something else – that you could find a way to cancel today?
– Write to your MP about cancelling the debts of developing countries so that the money they do have can be spent for the good of their people
– Consider joining a credit union: even if you don’t need to borrow, your funds help others to borrow safely. https://www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk/