Rejection seems to be the main thread that weaves its way through the readings for this Friday of the Second Week of Lent. We hear the story of Joseph, rejected by his brothers and sold into slavery for twenty pieces of silver, the traditional price for a slave at that time and in that culture.
The story from the Gospel of St. Matthew draws its inspiration from the prophet Isaiah who writes of a vineyard that produces wild grapes, of no value in the making of wine, and which was destroyed because of its failure to produce worthwhile fruit.
However, Jesus does not pass the verdict on the vineyard as Isaiah did. Rather, he asks his audience, the men who were responsible for God’s vineyard, what the verdict should be. Ironically they pronounce a verdict that stands as their own condemnation. In response, Jesus quotes Psalm 118 which also speaks of rejection. The stone which the builders rejected shall become the corner stone.
So in these two readings from the Scriptures, we are asked to focus on four different passages which all speak of rejection; namely the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis, the prophecy of Isaiah, the parable of the vineyard in Matthew’s Gospel, and Psalm 118 which Jesus quotes to illuminate the parable. However, those who have crafted the Lenten Lectionary Psalm 105 to respond to these situations, a long psalm which recounts much of salvation history and asks us to remember the wonders that God has wrought in the history of humankind, from the Book of Genesis to the proclamation of the Gospel.
Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. While a slave was sold for twenty pieces of silver, that same slave could buy his freedom for thirty. Through his treachery, Judas has made it possible for Jesus to win our freedom from the slavery of sin.
As we gather around the table of the Lord, we do remember the wonders God has wrought.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator