The English word "proleptic" is not common to most people’s vocabulary. Though there are several different meanings and connotations, when it is applied to the Sacred Scriptures, it means "anticipatory." In other words, it points to a future event and helps us to interpret that event. Thus, the first reading last Sunday about Abraham and Isaac pointed toward and interpreted the sacrifice of Calvary from both God the Father’s perspective as well as Jesus’.
The first reading for today’s liturgy is also proleptic. It tells the story of how Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery to some Ishmaelites. The price they were paid was the usual price for a slave at that time in history; namely, twenty pieces of silver. The price levied for a slave who wished to buy his freedom was thirty pieces of silver.
Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, the traditional price for buying a slave’s freedom. St. Paul tells us that we were enslaved to sin before Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. Jesus paid the price for our freedom. St. Matthew records the price of his betrayal in his Gospel (Matthew 26:15).
In the parable we hear in today’s Gospel, Jesus very skillfully weaves God’s plan of salvation into the story. The Hebrew Scriptures help us to realize the great plan of salvation set in motion by the God who loves us so much that he was willing to sacrifice his Son for our freedom. The parable amplifies and illustrates that plan.
Americans frequently point out that their political freedom is their birthright as citizens of this country. We are doubly blessed because Jesus has also purchased our freedom for the slavery to sin. Each Eucharist we celebrate gives thanks for that gift of freedom.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator