Our Lenten readings today point in the direction of unexpected consequences. The Genesis story describes Joseph being sold into slavery, but the Psalm response says this catastrophe resulted in Joseph’s becoming master in his household in Egypt. He was put in a position to instruct his rulers and then to become a source of wisdom and salvation for his brothers when they arrived in Egypt suffering from famine.
Today’s Gospel passage presents Jesus recounting the parable of servants being rejected by tenants in a vineyard when these servants came to collect produce owed their master, owner of the vineyard. In the end, they even kill the son of the vineyard owner, an obvious reference to Jesus himself rejected by his people when he sought from them the fruit of response to his kingdom preaching. But then Matthew’s Gospel adds that the stone rejected by the builders has in fact become the cornerstone. The very rejection and crucifixion of Jesus have led to resurrection and the beginning of life for all of us.
These readings draw us to reflect on how good can come from bad things, grace from suffering, life from death—all the unexpected consequences of our lives. Suffering may help us find new strengths we did not know we had; may help us focus on what is really important to us in life; or may confirm who our true friends are. Even our failures can teach us and can make us more tolerant of the faults of others. Perhaps our Lenten reflections should open us to unexpected consequences.
Appointed readings for today: Genesis 37:3-4, 12-28, Psalm 105:16-22, Matthew 21:33-43