Friday, March 13, 2009

Here Comes The Dreamer! Let's Kill Him!

Of all of his twelve sons, Jacob had a special place in his heart for Joseph, since he was born to him in his old age. He gave him the gift of a richly ornamented robe. When his brothers saw that, they hated Joseph, and would not speak a kind word to him.

One day, when his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, Jacob said to Joseph, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and the flocks, and bring the word back to me.”

So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them near Dothan. They saw him from a distance, and plotted to kill him. “Here comes the dreamer! Let’s kill him and throw him into a cistern. We can saw that a wild beast devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of Joseph’s dreams.”

When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue Joseph. “Let’s not take his life. Throw him into the cistern, if you must. But don’t kill him.” Reuben intended to rescue him later, and take him back to his father.

So they stripped him of his richly ornamented robe, and threw him into the cistern, which was empty and dry. As they sat down to their meal, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden down with spices, balm, and myrrh, which they were transporting down to Egypt.

Judah said to his brother, “What is to be gained by killing our brother and covering up his blood? Let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay a hand on him. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood. So, when the caravan came by, the brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty pieces of silver. (Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28)


Jesus said to the Chief Priests and the Elders: “Listen to another parable. There once was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He planted a hedge around it, dug a wine press, and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some tenant farmers, and went off on a journey. When harvest time came near, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect the produce.

But the tenants seized the servants. They beat one, stoned another, and killed a third. He sent other servants, more than before, but the tenants treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son. “Surely, they will respect my son”, he said.

But, when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir. Let’s kill him and take his inheritance.” So they took him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

“Now tell me, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do with those tenants?”

They replied, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they answered, “and he will rent his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at harvest time.”

Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone. The LORD has done this, and it is marvelous to behold.”

When the Pharisees heard Jesus' parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet. (Matthew 21: 33-46)

It wasn’t very long ago that we read the story of Cain, who had taken his own brother’s life. In today’s First Reading, also from Genesis, we find that not much has changed between Adam and Abraham. We are still envious of our brother’s success, and fail to see the image of God in our neighbors.

But there is an even more profound, but subtle message in these readings. No matter how badly men behave, God’s love overcomes evil, and brings comfort to those who mourn. Finally, in today’s readings, we have three episodes concerning the loss of a son: Jacob’s loss of Joseph; the landowner’s loss of his son and heir: finally, the first murmurs of the conspiracy among the Scribes, Pharisees, and Teachers of the Law, which eventually brought Jesus to the cross, where he fulfilled his divine message.

So, gentle reader, where do you find yourself in these readings? Are we the envious brothers, ignoring their father’s deep affection for the son of his old age, and giving their brother up for dead? Or are we the repentant brothers, who reconcile ourselves with both the Father and the Son in our desire to be loved and to love in return. Do we reject the corner stone? Or do we set it as the keystone of a Church that welcomes all and loves all? Can we learn to love one another as God loves the Son, and the Son loves us?

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