Posted On December 6, 2008

Joseph: Interpreter of God’s Dreams

Joseph was different from all the other children of Jacob. Jacob loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the son of his old age. And God too confirmed his special election by giving him regal dreams that prophesied his future of glory, thus arousing the jealousy of his brothers. Joseph’s father had made him a long tunic. He kept Joseph with him, at his side, while the other sons pastured the flocks.Another beloved Son was with his Father. Because, as Péguy says, “before every New Testament story came one from the Old Testament that is its parallel and similarity.”

One day Jacob decided to send Joseph to visit his brothers and the flocks. “Here comes the master dreamer!”, they said to one another when they glimpsed him from a distance, “we shall see what comes of his dreams!” (Gn 37: 1-20) because big dreams can provoke disdain. There was also another Son who was sent to his brothers in order to see to the flock. He too had great plans, dreams of peace. But from both of them their tunic was taken, and both were sold to a foreign power. Just among the unjust, both suffered the weight of slander that brought Joseph to the prisons of Egypt. But not even in that place of misfortune did the election of the Lord fail to manifest itself: the chief jailer put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners in the jail, “since the Lord was with him and brought success to all he did.” (Gn 39:23) At the same time, neither did his special gift weaken, that of receiving from God dreams and the wisdom to interpret them. This gift turns out to be his way out of prison, earning him the pharaoh’s admiration and a great power over all of Egypt. The blessing of God was so evident upon Joseph that at the birth of one of his sons he exclaimed a hymn of praise: “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Gn 41:52) God has done great things for me, although not –as we may desire- preserving me from deportation, slander and injustices, but making fruitful my suffering. God actualized his dreams of good in this very place, in the land of my affliction, of my tears. In the very place of my fatigue, in the event that stole away my hope, He came to bless me; and to bless with me a whole nation.

It was Joseph’s wisdom that saved Egypt from famine and attracted to that country the neighboring peoples, shepherds and nomad tribes. Even Joseph’s brothers were lead to the land of the Nile in their search for food. They went and knelt before that unknown dominator. Here the prophesy took shape and became reality in God’s immense project of good. A project that sprung from sin, the violence committed against Joseph. But it became grace to the eyes of who knew how to interpret the great dreams of God: “It was not really you but God who had me come here for the sake of saving your lives” (Gn 15:8), Joseph acknowledges. His suffering became the place of the blessing of God for him, for his family and for the entire people. It became the place of salvation.Therefore Joseph is a figure of the Just One who with His cross won everything for us. Joseph collected grain in the silos of Egypt. That Just One had stored up an abundance of graces for us in the granaries of heaven.

We are invited still today to acknowledge them: to know how to read in our own story the great dreams of God, woven miraculously in the very land of our suffering. We are asked to welcomingly accept his dreams, to open wide our gaze to the recognition that finally brings  peace to our afflictions: “I am Joseph, come closer to me!” (Gn 45:3) It is the voice of the Risen and Glorious Christ: “It is I myself, do not be afraid!” (Lk 24:39)

The Good News I want to Announce Is…
God has thoughts and projects for my good, and not even my sin can stop them because His son, on the cross, has stored away for me salvation and love. He actualized the dreams of the father.

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