Genesis 44:18-21, 23-29; 45:1-5
Saint Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs (Optional Memorial)
It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you. (Genesis 45:5)
Have you ever heard of a Fresnel lens? It’s a very thin, powerful lens system that can project the light from a single bulb as far as twenty miles away. Pioneered in 1823, it is still in use today in many lighthouses around the world.
Although the Fresnel lens was an important advancement, the actual placement of the lighthouse itself was just as important. If it was built on ground that was too low or too high, for example, it could be obscured by obstacles or by the clouds. Sometimes, a lighthouse had to be placed on a cliff overlooking the sea or on outcropping rocks, making for both a treacherous construction project and an inhospitable place to work.
Near the end of his story, Joseph realizes that his job is to be a kind of Fresnel lens. He sees that the different situations he has found himself in—prisoner, servant, prophet, and steward—have all been opportunities for him to shine God’s light into the lives of the people of Egypt. He also realizes that God has been using him to save his people, the Israelites, from famine. This is probably the hardest of all his situations, however, because it means that Joseph has to step out of his official, lordly role and forgive his brothers for all the harm they have caused him.
As he did with Joseph, God has placed you where you are so that you can shine his light. It may be hard to believe at times, but it’s true—you have the potential to help people find their way in this world and even more important, to find their way to the Lord. As it was with Joseph, there are times when it’s not all that easy to shine your light, times when you have to forgive or go out of your way or be extra generous.
Don’t let this frighten you. Remember, it’s his light shining in you, so it doesn’t all depend on you. Just imitate Joseph, and take it one step at a time. You’ll find Jesus giving you the grace you need as you lean on him.
“Lord, help me to shine your light wherever I am.”~WAU