Thu, 12 March 2020
(Gn.37:3-4,12-13,17-28; Ps.105:5,16-21; Mt.21:33-43,45-46)
“They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.”
“The stone which the builders rejected has become the keystone of the structure.” Hear what Scripture says. As he who was “sold as a slave” by his brothers became “lord of [the king’s] house and ruler of all his possessions,” so He whom the elders of the people could call “our brother, our own flesh,” whom they “seized… dragged… outside the vineyard, and killed,” has become the very foundation of the New Jerusalem.
How parallel are our first reading and gospel today. Jacob, Israel, sends the son he loves best, he who is “the child of his old age,” to the brothers who are tending their father’s flock, to bring them food to nourish them in their labor. The Father in heaven sends Jesus, His beloved Son – who is Child of His old age both in His existing with Him before time and in His coming here at the end of the age to His brothers – to those whom He has entrusted the care of His vineyard, through whom He feeds all the people, with the greatest of nourishment to sustain them unto heaven itself. For their jealousy over the favor granted their brother, Israel’s sons strip Joseph of his long and princely tunic and cast him into a cistern “which was empty and dry” as their souls. Out of the same jealousy and in the desire for His inheritance, the chief priests and Pharisees will soon arrest the Lord and see that He is stripped and nailed to a cross.
And, brothers and sisters, the outcome of each story shall be the same. As his brothers must come on their knees to their brother to find grain to keep themselves from dying of famine on the parched earth once Joseph has taken his place as ruler of the king’s possessions, so the elders of the people and all of us who bear responsibility for the death of Christ by our continual sins against Him shall have to come on our knees before Him who sits on the throne of heaven robed in glory, to find nourishment for our journey here in His sacred Body and Blood, and to find a place at table in the kingdom to come.
There is much to be pondered in the rejection of Jesus, as is so with the betrayal of Joseph. It is not only the Pharisees – who answer so well the Lord’s question regarding the fate of the tenant farmers, yet have not the faith to match the words God puts on their lips – who must look inside themselves and recognize their anger and jealousy and greed. The Lord invites each of his brothers to examine his conscience this day, in this time. In particular, are we showing ourselves to be the nation the Lord has given the kingdom of God? Do we “yield a rich harvest” for Him who was sold for thirty pieces of silver? Or have our souls gone bankrupt? May from us the Lord “obtain His share of the grapes.”
O LORD, you are rejected, you are killed,
that your inheritance you might share with us.
YHWH, though we reject your Beloved Son, dragging Him out of the vineyard to kill Him, yet His blood becomes salvation for us, release from slavery to sin. As Joseph who was sold to the Ishmaelites became ruler in the land of Egypt, so has the One who has died on a cross become the cornerstone of your kingdom. And all who come to Him this day, under Him become a holy nation.
There is a great famine upon this land, O LORD, and we would quickly die for lack of nourishment if to us you did not send your only Son to provide for all our needs. Let us show our gratefulness to you for such rich blessing by giving due honor to the One you have sent and producing abundant fruit in His Name.
O LORD, let all jealous souls be gathered into your harvest, redeemed from the blood upon their hands by our Savior’s sacrifice. Such marvels you would perform for us at no cost but the abandonment of our greed and envy.