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Reflections on the Sunday readings

Fret-free

Genesis 45:3-11, 15  •  Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40  •  1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50  •  Luke 6:27-38

Do not fret, the psalmist says. Do not get hot and bothered by those who do wrong. Joseph, at some point before the successful conclusion of his story as depicted in today's Genesis reading, must have landed on the same principle. He could continually sulk about his brothers, who threw him in a well, leaving him for dead or for the life of slavery which he endured for many years. He could be bitter about the politics of pharaoh's house, which landed him in prison, unjustly accused. Or he could look at what happened, reflecting on his contribution to what happened. For example, he could have used some of his time in prison to think about himself as his father's favorite, the impact on his brothers, and ways that he continued to act as a spoiled child. Then, he would be able to turn his attention away from "another somebody done somebody wrong song," as B.J. Thomas once put it, avoiding the allurement and familiarity of licking one's own wounds for a more positive use of his energies.

 

Jesus warns against ruminating on what another has done. In today's verses, he tells us in at least fourteen ways (I just counted) not to fret about others. Although this seems pretty straightforward, it is difficult to do. The pull to notice the behaviors of others begins early in life, as one learns expectations and functional roles in one's family unit. Going back to one's family without reactivity to them or pressure on them to perform in certain ways is difficult. Maintaining one's own self even with pressure from one's family to meet old expectations is also hard. Both will begin a process of untangling oneself while remaining connected to one's family. In a sense, "do not fret" begins at home.

 

Morning reflection: What family member could I connect with today? When my mind begins to focus on the behavior of others, what can I focus on instead?

Evening reflection: Was I able to connect with a family member? When did I fret today?

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