Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday in the 2nd Week of Lent
They’re Talking about Me

Readings: Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a; Psalm 105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21; Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46

When they heard his parables, the chief priests and the scribes realized that he was speaking about them…

Have you ever had this experience? You happen to overhear, perhaps unintentionally, some people talking. They’re talking about some other person. And immediately you become interested. Perhaps there’s some juicy piece of information here. Perhaps there’s something you yourself can throw into the pot. But as the conversation goes on, you come to the sudden realization: Hey, they’re actually talking about me… What do you do?

To draw fruit from our readings today much depends upon us realizing who is being spoken about. In the first place, we need to see the obvious parallel being drawn between Joseph in the first reading and Jesus in the gospel. Both of them are victims. Joseph is a victim of his brothers’ jealousy. He is sold to foreigners, sold into slavery, for twenty pieces of silver. Jesus too will be sold by one of his own disciples for thirty pieces of silver and handed over to foreigners. The only difference is Jesus will actually be put to death. The reason for their being victimized is also similar. Joseph suffers because he is a dreamer who enjoys his father’s favour. He dreams about how, not just his brothers, but his whole family will bow down before him, acknowledging him as their Lord. Similarly, Jesus enjoys the favour of his Father in heaven. And, as we see in the gospel today, he too is a dreamer. He provokes people by telling parables suggesting that he is the rightful heir to the owner of the vineyard. The others are only tenants who must acknowledge his authority. Finally, and quite ironically, it is precisely their victimization that makes their dreams come true. It is through their sufferings that both Joseph and Jesus become saviours. In a time of famine, Joseph will provide food for his family. And, in the midst of spiritual famine, a famine of the word of God, Jesus comes as the Word made flesh, the One who becomes the heavenly bread broken for the life of the world.

But more than just stories about Joseph and his brothers, or about Jesus and his listeners, like the chief priests and the scribes in the gospel today, we need to realize that these are stories about us. We are the ones being spoken about. Perhaps we may find ourselves portrayed in the tenants of Jesus’ parable. Like them, we may labour under the mistaken notion that we are the rightful owners of all we possess, including our careers, our families and perhaps even our faith. We may think we are the masters and mistresses of our own destiny. And then along comes the heir, the rightful owner of everything we’re clinging to, inviting us to acknowledge his lordship, inviting us to hand over everything to him. Or perhaps we may find ourselves mirrored in the servants of the parable, or even in Joseph or Jesus. Perhaps we too have known victimization or suffering. And, quite ironically, perhaps it’s precisely in our own pain that we have come to recognize how much like those tenants we are, how much we are clinging to things which do not belong to us. In either case, the invitation is the same: we need to allow that stone rejected by the builders to become the keystone, the only firm foundation, of our lives. We need to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus, the victim, the dreamer, and the saviour, so that in the process, others too may be saved.

Whatever our situation today, the scriptures are indeed speaking about us.

What is our response?

1 comment:

  1. What is our response? My response is: Lord show me in my heart, when have I been the victim or the victimiser, for I'm usually spiritually blind? Help me to pray often for the grace to be open and to listen to you and discern the situations in my life.