Monday, December 20, 2010

Joseph's Bones, a Promise, and Passing the Word

I've got the authority of some guy with a blog. I've said that before, but with all the Bible verses in this post, I thought it'd be prudent to repeat it.

Raising Children, Not Just Having Them

My wife and I have been blessed with children: four of whom have survived. This weekend, we've had all four under the roof - occasionally. There's been a family get-together over at my father-in-law's place, so folks have been shifting back and forth a bit.

Tonight, though, all four are here: plus my son-in-law, #2 daughter's husband.

It's good to have kids. My opinion. Having goodhearted kids helps me feel that way.

There's quite a bit about children in the Bible, I found after a little rummaging around. Like this bit from Psalms:
"We do not keep them from our children; we recite them to the next generation, The praiseworthy and mighty deeds of the LORD, the wonders that he performed. God set up a decree in Jacob, established a law in Israel: What he commanded our ancestors, they were to teach their children; That the next generation might come to know, children yet to be born. In turn they were to recite them to their children, that they too might put their trust in God, And not forget the works of God, keeping his commandments."
(Psalm 78:4-7)
That reminded me of Joseph's bones - and folks with long memories. Really long memories.

Joseph's Bones: A Promise Remembered

Abraham and his sons - including Joseph - lived in "early part of the second millennium B.C. (2000-1500)...." (Preface to the New American Bible) Joseph: His early life was a series of ups and downs. Literally, in one case. (Genesis 37:24-28)

After Joseph got put in charge of a wide swath of Egypt's domestic affairs (Genesis 41:39-41), he had a chance to get even with his brothers - and saved them from starvation. That narrative starts in Genesis 42.

Then Joseph grew old, and died.
"Joseph said to his brothers: 'I am about to die. God will surely take care of you and lead you out of this land to the land that he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.' Then, putting the sons of Israel under oath, he continued, 'When God thus takes care of you, you must bring my bones up with you from this place.' "
(Genesis 50:24-25)
About five hundred years later,1 Joseph's bones started their journey back.
"Moses also took Joseph's bones along, for Joseph had made the Israelites swear solemnly that, when God should come to them, they would carry his bones away with them."
(Exodus 13:19)
That would be like someone living around the time of Columbus, Henry VIII, and Martin Luther being given an obligation - which couldn't be taken care of until this year.

Joseph's brothers were long gone by the time Moses got sent back to Egypt with a mission, a message, and Aaron. (Exodus 4:10-15) But evidently they'd told their children about the family obligation - and word got passed from each generation to the next, until someone had an opportunity to get the job done.

That wouldn't have happened, if each set of parents hadn't made sure that their children knew who Joseph was, where his bones were, and why it was important to take Joseph's remains back. I'm sure, by the way, that there are important reasons why it was important to return Joseph's bones to his home.

For me, though, a very important reason was simply that a promise had been made. And a promise was kept. Even though it took half a millennium to do so.

Children, and their Children's Children

More than a thousand years after Moses lived and died, a son was born in the house of David - and nearly two thousand years after that, we're still celebrating the birthday of Jesus.

My wife and I don't have the sort of obligation that the descendants of Joseph's brothers did: but we do have the job of telling and showing our children who Jesus is, why He's important, and helping them learn to live the way He wants us to.

More, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (2221)

And, about reading the Bible:
  • "Bible Is for Catholics"
    Mary Elizabeth Sperry, Associate Director for Utilization of the New American Bible, Office of Media Relations, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Sort-of-related posts:

1 "New American Bible" St. Joseph Medium Size edition, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, p. 38.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.