Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a
Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
Humble Love That Overcomes the Embarrassment of Sin.
Why does Lent come upon us with a certain unwelcome? Our fast invites us to feast, the work of charity is refreshing, and prayer is conversation with a best friend. True, we may not be attracted to the excitement of the three-ring circus, nor a whirlwind vacation where we meet many and landscapes changing often. Lent can be overwhelming in all that is set before us. Our first Sunday of Lent found Jesus in the desert, led there by the Spirit. An important aspect of Lent for each of us is listening to what the Spirit of God would show us, where the Spirit leads us, what the Spirit will give us or ask of us. While much is set before us and we could be overwhelmed, Our Lord listens to our needs and hopes, and sets before us the gifts that would be ours.
On the Fridays of Lent the Passion of Jesus is before us. In our readings we may ask, "where does such evil come from?" In a few moments among a group of brothers a plan to kill their youngest brother! How they doom themselves to a life of regret. Foolishness does not begin to describe their action. And as for those in the gospel who hope to have an inheritance following the murder of the owner’s son? Indeed, ‘a bad end’ is in their future. Could they be so stupid?
In Genesis we see human brokeness from the very beginning; in the Gospel we see Jesus reconciling us to the Father and to one another. We can look back as will Joseph’s brothers and shake our heads at the times when love has not been a first choice. We can look at Jesus and be humbled as he walks the journey that will lead him to be seized, dragged outside the vineyard and put to death. As heavy is the mystery of our sinfulness, heavier on the scales is the mystery of the love that embraces and reconciles us.
The responsorial psalm tells us to "remember the marvels the Lord has done." We hear of unloving choices, but that is not where the story ends, not where Lent will end. The story of Joseph is the most tender story of forgiveness. At its ending it is hard not to cry with Joseph as he realizes his brothers cannot fathom his love and forgiveness for them. And as we stand before the precious gift of the Father who gives his son to ransom a slave, we can be moved to tears.
This Lenten Friday may the Holy Spirit help us to make Matthew’s words rest upon our hearts, "it is marvelous to behold."
Fr. William Murphy, CP is pastor of St. Joseph’s Monastery parish in Baltimore, Maryland.