And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.
“But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. (Genesis 45:4-5)
For me, this is one of the most moving passages in the Bible. Joseph, who had been treated so terribly by his brothers, torn away from his family and reported to be dead, sold into slavery, imprisoned…This Joseph reaches out to these same brothers in forgiveness and reconciliation. If he spent earlier years brooding and bitter that no longer shows. He sees everything, even their betrayal, in the light of God’s mysterious guidance.
When I hear this story I think of Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow. He too was betrayed by brother bishops—and many leading priests—who joined the “Living Church” set up and supported by the Bolshevik government. The Living Church had only minimal support among the faithful and the Renovationist churches were practically empty. But the leaders attacked the patriarch and his followers for not following their reformist agenda. Indeed, they cooperated with the secret police as hundreds of “Tikhonite” clergy were executed as counterrevolutionaries.
And yet, some of those bishops repented and returned after Patriarch Tikhon was let out of prison. I recall reading of an especially poignant moment when Patriarch Tikhon received back one of these bishops and they embraced and wept.
Joseph is of course a “type” of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who soon will be going to His voluntary suffering for the reconciliation of all.
Yesterday Metropolitan Tikhon met with chancery staff for our monthly meeting. The main item on the agenda was to alert everyone to a project we’ll be doing in mid-May. The Metropolitan Council and Holy Synod have set up a committee (under the chairmanship of Father John Shimchick) to look at the kind of tasks that are being done at the various levels of our church life—OCA-wide, diocesan, deanery and parish. The aim is to determine how best to plan and budget. As part of the information-gathering for the OCA-wide level we will be taking a snapshot of a two-week period after Pascha and asking Chancery staff, departments heads and others (most likely the Holy Synod and Metropolitan council members), to make a detailed record of their activities that concern the OCA as a whole.
After the meeting, His Beatitude got into the car for the four-hour drive to New Skete Monastery in Cambridge, NY, his first visit. He’ll be spending a few days there to be introduced to the life, worship and work of the monks and nuns and the community of companions there. Primatial Dog Max was also along for the ride since he will be getting some instruction from the monks, who for decades have been famous for their training (see the monastery website).
I will be on the road too this morning, heading up to Ottawa to take care of various loose ends concerning house, cars, taxes. On Friday I’ll be on a panel of examiners for a doctoral defense at Saint Paul University. And then I look forward to serving once again at Annunciation Cathedral this weekend as we enter Holy Week.