This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a aheadline from world news:
Joseph Is Sold by His Brothers
12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem.13And Israel said to Joseph, ‘Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’14So he said to him, ‘Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.’ So he sent him from the valley of Hebron.
He came to Shechem,15and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, ‘What are you seeking?’16‘I am seeking my brothers,’ he said; ‘tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.’17The man said, ‘They have gone away, for I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.” ’ So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan.18They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him.19They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer.20Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.’21But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, ‘Let us not take his life.’22Reuben said to them, ‘Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him’—that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father.23So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves* that he wore;24and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.
King James Bible aficionados will note that the “coat of many colours” has become a mere “robe with long sleeves”. Whatever the translation problems, this is a bit of a come down. Still, the old dynamics of the story are preserved: the dreamer is faced with reality, the one who walked on air is lowered into a pit, the father’s favourite is made to feel the hatred of his siblings. He has been guilty of thoughtless self-absorption; they are guilty of murderous jealousy, which is fuelled as much by the fear that Joseph’s dreams may come true as by the confidence that they are false. We can stand few things less than real superiority.
One of the featgures of the tabloid press i the UK is its relentless hatred of anything or anyone who seems to rise above the common level of humanity. Such a person is pursued and badgered till their feet of clay are revealed, as sadly, they often are. The urge to denigrate and besmirch anything splendid is immensely popular and disgusting.
The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news* of God,*15and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;* repent, and believe in the good news.’*
Jesus Calls the First Disciples
16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen.17And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’18And immediately they left their nets and followed him.19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets.20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.<!– 21 –>
The Man with an Unclean Spirit
21 They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit,24and he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’26And the unclean spirit, throwing him into convulsions and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He* commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
For Mark, Jesus embodies the rule of God in such away that fishermen immediately down tools at his call, and demons obey his command. Mark emphasises that Jesus’ status as son of God, far from meaning exemption from suffering, demands his presence amongst the poor and the neediest for whom he fights against the power of evil. For Jesus, however, just as for Joseph, life as a favourite son arouses jealousy and hate. If mere superiority arouses rage, how much more does greater goodness.