“Now the famine was severe in the land. And when they had eaten put he grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, ‘Go again, buy us a little more food.’” Genesis 43:1-2, NRSV
Jacob was adamant that he would not let his sons take the youngest son, Benjamin, to Egypt to retrieve Simeon. No way. Case closed. But now they have run out of food. And there is food in Egypt. If Jacob wants food, so keep living, and to sustain his family, there is only one option. Send his sons, including Benjamin, to Egypt for more food. Jacob must change his mind. He must go against his previous edict.
When a person is hungry, sometimes principles become less important than food. I remember seeing a play many, many years ago, about Adam and Eve. After eating the apple, Adam made some kind of comment about morals being fine as long as your belly is full. If you know this reference, please share the details or the exact quote! But I have never forgotten that idea. Ideals, morals, values, principles, it’s all fine when things are basically “normal.” But in a situation of desperation, sometimes we feel forced to bend.
Sometimes people are stealing to get food for their children. When the plane crashed in the Andes with the soccer team, the survivors ended up eating those who were killed. It was this or die. Someone told me about how her mother, desperate to feed her children, accepted money for sex. No one wants to be in that kind of desperate situation. Yet many people are. In our community, In this country. And in the world. Being aware of this can make us more compassionate and less judgmental. We can consider who to see that help is available to those who need it. We can also work on how we can create communities and societies in which no one is in that kind of situation of extreme hopelessness.
Sometimes we may want to relax our values and morals for convenience or greed. We feel tempted to do something we know is wrong because it may be easier for us, it may save us money, no one will find out, so why not? May we remember that there are people around the world and around the corner who are faced with compromising their morals and their values to survive. Maybe even to keep their children alive. May our compassion be stirred so that our faith and our moral commitment lead us to work to eliminate such circumstances. That’s what Jesus would do. Amen.