Monday, February 18, 2013

Genesis 39-40 and The Letters of Ignatius [Ephesians 10-12]

Please forgive the long delay in posting. Had to attend a family members funeral mass in Florida over the weekend and had also to be without a computer, but everything should be back to normal now.

Genesis 39 - Returning to the Joseph story (of the Yahwist source—36 and 37 having been Elohist – together with 40, which is yet to come), we see Joseph has been sold to Potiphar, chief steward of the Pharaoh (39:1). 

Everything he touches turns to gold – not literally, but metaphorically.  He ends up in charge of everything.  When Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce him, Joseph sees it as a grave threat to the trust placed in him and a great potential wrong (39:8-9).  So he refuses her and she finally accuses him falsely of threatening to violate her and he is thrown into jail.  But there too he rises to the top and ends up being put in charge of “all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison” (39:22).  He simply cannot escape his leadership destiny. The idea that character is destiny is strong here.

Genesis 40 – Joseph is gifted in both having and interpreting dreams – we already know this about him. Now in jail because of the accusations made against him by Potiphar’s wife, Joseph has even there risen to a position of prominence.

When two men in the jail, the “Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker” (40:5), come to him with dreams they have had, he interprets the dreams, and his interpretations turn out to be accurate: one of the men - the chief cup-bearer of the Pharaoh – is released and restored to his position. The other man – the chief baker – is put to death.

Nothing changes for Joseph immediately. The cup-bearer does not remember Joseph until a few years go by.

The Epistles of Ignatius
Letter to the Ephesians

10 – As for the rest of mankind, Ignatius tells them they should “pray for them unceasingly” that they might “find their way to God” (64). Let them “learn from you . . . from the way you act” (64). “Meet their animosity with mildness, their high words with humility, and their abuse with your prayers. But stand firm against their errors, and if they grow violent, be gentle instead of wanting to pay them back in their own coin” (64).

“Let us show by our forbearance that we are their brothers, and try to imitate the Lord by seeing which of us can put up with the most ill-usage or privation or contempt – so that in this way none of the devil’s noxious weeds may take root among you, but you may rest in Jesus Christ in all sanctity and discipline of body and soul” (64)

11 –   “The end of all things is near” (64). We must remember that and remain humble. “Apart from Him, nothing else should have any value in your eyes; but in Him, even these chains I wear are a collar of spiritual pearls to me, in which I hope to rise again through the help of your intercessions” (64). He prays that he may always have place in their midst, where Christians “in the power of Jesus Christ have ever been of the self-same mind as the Apostles themselves” (64).

12 – He returns to the reality that he is on his way to Rome and to death. “I am in peril; you are in security. You are the gateway, through which we are escorted by Death into the presence of God. You are initiates of the same mysteries as our saintly and renowned Paul of blessed memory” (64). He has remembered you and recognized you in all of his letters. Important to remember that the only church “fathers” whose letters we have who actually KNEW Paul and the other disciples were Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp. Ignatius is drawing on his personal knowledge of Paul here.

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