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Friday, second week of Lent

March 5, 2010

Blessed Friday!

Merciful Father,
may our acts of penance bring us Your forgiveness,
open our hearts to Your Love,
and prepare us for the coming feast of the resurrection.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen.
(Opening Prayer from Mass)

Readings:
Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28 (Joseph’s jealous brothers wanted to kill him,
but sold him into slavery instead)
Psalm 105:16-21 “Remember the marvels the Lord has done”
+Matthew 21:33-46 (the murderous tenants of the vineyard will be ousted)

God has a way of introducing hard teachings indirectly,
giving hints of what’s coming so that it will be familiar (and thus easier to accept) when it arrives.

Well did St. Augustine say,

“The Old Testament is the New concealed,
but the New Testament is the Old revealed”
-Catechizing of the Uninstructed 4:8

“When the Lord called down a famine on the land
and ruined the crop that sustained them,
He sent a man before them,
Joseph, sold as a slave” -Psalm 105:16-17

God said, “I will send a famine upon the land:
not a famine of bread or a thirst for water,
but for hearing the word of the Lord” (Amos 8:11).
Again He sent a Man before them,
Jesus, the Word made flesh (John 1:1-14),
who took the form of a slave (Philippians 1:7).

Joseph (Old Testament) and Jesus (New Testament) were both beloved sons of their fathers (Genesis 37:3, Matthew 3:17), sent to their brothers (Genesis 37:13, Hebrews 2:10-17), who were jealous of them (Genesis 37:4, Matthew 27:18). Both were taken captive (Genesis 37:23-28, Matthew 26:50), stripped of their garments (Genesis 37:23, Matthew 27:35), and sold (Genesis 37:28 & Matthew 26:14-15). Joseph’s death was plotted (Genesis 37:37:18-20); Jesus’ was carried out (Matthew 27). Both went through a period of temptation; Joseph with his master’s wife (Genesis 39:7), and Jesus with the devil (Matthew 4). Both remained innocent. Both descended into prison; Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 30:20), and Jesus in the abode of the dead (I Peter 3:19). Both rose from their confinement as saviors (Genesis 45:7, I Corinthians 15:12-19), and forgave those who had wronged them (Genesis 45:5-8, Luke 23:34), but neither were recognized by those closest to them (Genesis 42:8, Luke 24:16). Both provided bread when no one else could (Genesis 41:56, John 6:1-13). Both were exalted (Psalm 105:21, Philippians 1:9).
Of both it could be said, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20)

“By the Lord has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes”
-Matthew 21:42, quoting Psalm 118:23

When Jesus was confronted by the chief priests and elders of the people, they already had a hint of what was coming. They already had this foreshadowing of God’s plan of salvation in the story of their historical hero, Joseph. God had also already used the image of a vineyard to represent sinful Israel (Isaiah 5:1), so when Jesus told the story of the tenants who abused their privileges and deserved condemnation, there was really very little left to the imagination. There was simply a choice. Would they change their ways, as Joseph’s brothers had (and were saved),
or would they follow their script to its logical end?

We have the same choice.

Whenever we turn against God, we cast ourselves in the role of Joseph’s brothers,
the role of the wicked tenants. But our script is not cast in stone.
If we repent, God will turn even our evil deeds to our salvation.

May we take the hint…

Yours in a change of heart,

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