Scripture: Lectionary 235: March 1, Genesis 37:3-4,12-13, 17-28. Psalm 105.16-17. 18-19.20-21. Matthew 21: 33-43,45-46:
The Joseph saga is the longest single narrative of the whole of Genesis. Joseph becomes a model for patience in the ups and downs of life that were not foreseen. His optimism continues throughout the story and helps us to learn from this magnificent life of a holy and saintly prince. “ Zornberg sees the adolescent Joseph “behaving with the narcissism of youth, with a dangerous unawareness of the feelings of others.” Years later, the vicissitudes of life will have matured him to the point where he could look at a person’s face and ask, “Why do you appear downcast today?” (Genesis 40:7). (Etz Hayim, p.227)
He was loved above the other sons by Jacob who gives him a special tunic that illustrates this favoritism; He was also loved above the others for he was the last child of Rachel the beloved of Jacob. “One would expect Jacob of all people, having suffered the consequences of parental favoritism, to avoid repeating his parents’ mistake. Perhaps it is easier for us to see a problem intellectually than to free ourselves of the tendency to imitate our parents.” (Etz Hayim, p.227).
Turning toward the behavior of his brothers, we see examples of hatred, jealousy, and possibly greed. They are even willing to kill Joseph until Reuben and Judah spare his life. The parallel of the Genesis reading fits our Gospel for the day which gives us the parable of the Vineyard and the Wicked Tenants. The parable is an allegory of salvation history. Jesus’ death mirrors the life threatening situation we saw in the Joseph narrative. Both Jesus and Jospeph are rejected and hated out of jealousy and envy.
For us we are led to reflect on our impromptu feelings and thoughts of jealousy, greed, and anger. We are not led to the extremes seen in the two readings but we do have these creeping little thoughts that make us want to have what others have and to feel sorry for ourselves when we are not affirmed or congratulated. Lent is the time for us to realize how much God loves us and has given us. Too often we focus on the negative things around us rather than accepting the limitations of human nature in ourselves and others. Lent forces us to be patient with self, with others, and with our not hearing answers from God. We are to accept our lot in life and be happy with it and not try to have someone else’s gifts and graces. “Sufficient is my grace for you.”
We hear from the Psalmist that we should praise God for the marvels the Lord has done for us. We think about Joseph who did not retaliate or punish his brothers with the power he obtained in Egypt.
Jesus is put to death on a cross and dies outside his own beloved city of Jerusalem. The parable hints at this tragedy. Our salvation comes from this devastating death because Jesus’ love is greater than his death. Our own salvation comes from his redeeming act of love on the cross. Never do we find in him the sins of the brothers of Joseph. Joseph did not sin either. During this Lenten Friday we may wish to review our own behavior patterns and negative thoughts of jealousy or any of the capital sins. These are not outright sins, but do prevent us from experiencing the love that Jesus extends to us through countless graces each day of Lent. We are led to curb these thoughts and feelings and thus become more like the patient Joseph and the loving Jesus. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.