Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13,
Psalm 105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21
Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
Today's scriptures are familiar stories. Joseph and the coat of many colors and the parable of the tenants. In Genesis, Joseph approaches his brothers and instead of a welcome, he is stripped, beaten, thrown into a hole and then sold into slavery. In Matthew, Jesus tells the chief priests and Pharisees the parable of the tenants. The landowner sends his servants to the tenants at harvest time to collect the fruit of the vineyard. One servant is beaten, another killed and another stoned. The landowner sends other servants with the same results. Finally the landowner sends his son, thinking they will respect his son. The son is murdered. These are stories where someone expects to be welcomed and instead is rejected.
Everyone wants to be welcomed. No one wants to be rejected. After a long day at work, I like nothing better than to be welcomed home by my family. The greeting and smile of a child can melt away the longest day's cares. Not long ago I came home with my arms full of groceries. As I opened the door and stepped into the house, my youngest son raced up to me shouting "daddy!" and grabbed my leg. I lost my balance and in my attempt not to step on the child, I stepped squarely on my wife's bare foot. She let out a scream loud enough to make several dead people sit up and look around. When I complained about the damage to my ear drums, she gave me a look that could kill and shouted, "well, welcome home and up your's." I can't say that was the greeting I was looking for. Ah, domestic bliss. Sometimes when we expect to be welcomed, we face rejection.
When I read the story of Joseph and his brothers, I feel contempt
for his brothers. Sure Reuben and Judah keep Joseph from being killed,
but what do they do? They sell him into slavery. I don't think
they deserve any medals for that. And the parable of the tenants.
Jesus, the Son of God, is face to face with the religious leaders of the
day and not only do they not recognize him, they want to arrest him.
Instead of a welcome, rejection. I look at the Pharisees and I shake
my head at their narrow-minded blindness. However, before I become
too self-righteous and judgmental, perhaps I should look at my own heart.
How welcoming am I? I thoroughly enjoy the Lenten season. A
time of somber sadness. Of impending death and loss. And yet
a time of joy and promise. Of victory and light. Truly a mystery.
Lent is a great time for reflection. A time to evaluate my faith.
What do I believe? How is my relationship with Christ going?
Can it grow? Should I be looking at new directions? If I'm
honest with myself, I'm probably pretty similar to the Pharisees.
Fairly set in my ways. My own vision of right and wrong and where
the future should be going. Am I open to nudgings from the Holy Spirit?
If Christ were to tell the parable of the tenants to me, would I recognize
Jesus? Would I recognize myself in the story? My desire is
to welcome Christ into my heart. I want to be a tenant who produces
fruit for the master. Lent is a great time to think about how I can
serve Christ and how I can serve my fellow man. My prayer would be
that I would be open to nudgings from the Holy Spirit, that I would recognize
Christ's face when it is in front of me and I would be a welcoming person.
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