Friday - Second Week of Lent
March 2, 2018
The theme of this Genesis story is what hatred and envy can do to you. It is taken from the account of Jacob's sons who hate one of their brothers, Joseph, who enjoys the preferential favor of their father. Jacob had given Joseph a special tunic, the color and length of which suggests special esteem. The brothers in their hatred and envy conspire to kill Joseph, but they are persuaded by two of their group, Ruben and Judah, not to slay him, but rather to throw him into a pit and leave him as prey to the wild animals. Judah happens to see a caravan of Medianites passing by and suggests they sell Joseph as a slave, while they do, for 20 pieces of silver.
The responsorial psalm picks up the Joseph story where Genesis left off. We don't know who exactly wrote this psalm or when, but this is certain throughout: God is our creator, God is our savior.
In today's psalm God is with the beloved son Joseph as the latter is sold into Egypt. A famine has come upon the Hebrew people, and several of Jacob's sons are in Egypt searching for food. Unknown to them their brother Joseph had risen to the rank of high minister to the Pharaoh. The brothers do not recognize Joseph, but they are grateful for his help.
Joseph does not return hatred for hatred, but rather love. This is the psalm's theme. As the Jews work their way through history, we take with us the lesson of Joseph, who loves his brothers despite their evil intent toward him.
In today's gospel, a property owner (read God) plants a vineyard, sets a hedge around it, digs a wine press, builds a tower, and lets the property out to tenants (read us).
He goes on a trip and upon his return sends his servants (read prophets) to get the fruit from his labor. The tenants beat up the servants, so the master sends more servants. These are also treated very badly. The owner then sends his own son (read Jesus) thinking surely they would respect him. The tenants not only mistreat the son - they kill him, thinking in this evil, twisted way they can get the property for themselves.
Now comes the householder himself seeking justice, telling us (the readers) that the one who has been rejected, indeed killed is the cornerstone of a building without which no building is possible. This story upsets the Pharisees and chief priests in the crowd. They realize that Jesus has been talking about them, and they try but fail to arrest him. The parable has become a reality!
Where are we in all this today? Probably with the disciples trying to understand it all - and hoping and praying that we are not party with the evil tenants or poor folks who just don't get it. It really behooves us to read this scriptures very closely.
St. Anthony Parishioner (and Bible Study leader and Adult Faith Formation Committee)