Ordinary Time


Asking for forgiveness is hard.

It means realizing that you’ve hurt someone. It means accepting responsibility.

Asking for forgiveness is also deeply intimate.

It means acknowledging that the relationship you have with someone is close enough that you can hurt them. It means being vulnerable.


When Joseph’s brothers realized that their father was now dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us, and wants to pay us back seriously for all of the terrible things we did to him?” So they approached Joseph and said, “Your father gave orders before he died, telling us, ‘This is what you should say to Joseph. “Please, forgive your brothers’ sins and misdeeds, for they did terrible things to you. Now, please forgive the sins of the servants of your father’s God.”’” Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

His brothers wept too, fell down in front of him, and said, “We’re here as your slaves.”

Genesis 50:15-18


Most people who have siblings know what it’s like to feel betrayed by them. Whether you catch them reading your diary or you hesitate in taking responsibility for something you did that your sibling is being blamed for, disappointments and betrayals litter all sibling relationships.

Very few people experience the level of betrayal Joseph had at the hands of his brothers, who sold him into slavery. His brothers, when their father died, feared that Joseph’s mercy had died with their father, that he only loved them and cared for them because of that love.

In this moment of mourning and loss, Joseph’s brothers asked for forgiveness, and Joseph was moved to tears. In this moment, the brothers reversed the power dynamic, bowing down before Joseph and claiming the status of slaves in this relationship.

What is a brother to do?

Kirstin Swanson


I pray, O God, for the awareness you gave Joseph’s brothers to realize that they had committed an act that required forgiveness. I don’t always know when something I have said or done has caused another person to feel betrayed. Give me the wisdom to know when I have done this and the strength to ask for forgiveness, even when I think it’s too hard. In the name of the Trinity I pray, amen.


Each day is a new chance to act with compassion and offer forgiveness.

May your eyes, ears, and heart be opened to the new beginnings forgiveness can offer, for the forgiver and the forgiven.