Chise and Joseph have their final showdown in episode 24, and while they battle by magical means, their war of words is even more compelling. As they struggle, Joseph seeks to hurt Chise psychologically, as he had done earlier during the transfer process, and maybe also to lay blame for his situation. Cursed not only by Cartaphilus but also by the selfish love he exhibits, as I explained in part one, Joseph is unwilling to capitulate to Chise.
That’s not to say that Joseph’s actions aren’t brutal, too—he’s committed many atrocious acts over hundreds of years, even in this moment, harms Chise and her love ones. She has no reason to offer him a peaceable solution; she is in the right to try to destroy him. Despite a tortured past that led him along this path, Joseph is clearly a bad guy. As Chise tells him, “Just because it hurts doesn’t mean you can make others suffer with you.”
But Joseph feels a sort of kinship with Chise, asking her, “What’s the difference between what you tried to earn by sacrificing yourself and what I want?” He challenges Chise, calling her out as a hypocrite rather than a kind spirit, to which Chise agrees.
In similar fashion, my article yesterday described Joseph as being similar to the elder brother in the story of the Prodigal Son. After his sibling took his half of the fortune, squandered it in wild living, and came back begging to be put into servitude, but instead received a robe and ring and feast from the father, he complained to and humiliated his dad. The older brother had tried to earn love his own way for his own means, using morality to win his portion of his father’s inheritance, as Joseph used Cartaphilus to try to satisfy his own desires.
But a switch occurs during episode 24: Joseph is now put into the role of the younger brother, the one who is obviously in the wrong. Chise becomes the elder brother, but instead of acting that part exactly, she resembles a loving elder brother, a good elder brother, not the one who complains and is unwilling to give a portion of his inheritance to celebrate his sibling’s return, but one who pours out grace and love, even as she’s pieced through by Joseph. Chise binds Cartaphilus to herself, sharing in the blessing and pain of it, empathizing with Joseph: “It hurts when no one understands.”
And because of Chise’s act, because she didn’t take vengeance, because she showed love, restraint, and giving, Joseph has found a place to rest.
On this week before Easter, I want to proclaim that we have a good elder brother as well. When we have gone astray, he sacrificed himself, gave of his own inheritance to share with us. He didn’t leave us to die in our filth, to receive what we deserved, but instead was pierced for our us, by us, because his love was greater than our sin. And by that love, by that grace, we no longer need to suffer. We, too, have found our rest.