Today’s readings are about how lives and even kingdoms can be upended. Our paths through life are not straightforward.
We read about Joseph, his father’s favorite son, whose jealous brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. Instead of completing an errand for his father, Joseph’s life was uprooted by his own family. In the Psalm, Joseph’s story continues: We learn that the king released him and “set him as a master over his household” and to instruct his princes and elders—Joseph has had another reversal of fortune.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable, we know from the surrounding passages, to the chief priests and elders in the temple courts in Jerusalem. The story is of a landowner who has rented out his carefully-built vineyard to some tenants. At harvest time, instead of giving the landowner’s servants his fruit, the tenants twice kill the servants whom the landowner has sent. The landowner then sends his own son, believing the tenants will respect him. Instead, the tenants kill the landowner’s son as well. Jesus asks the priests and elders what will happen, and they respond that the owner will put the tenants to death and find new tenants to take their place.
Jesus responds by quoting scripture: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Jesus tells the priests and elders, “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.” Thus Jesus, referencing his own presence, tells the priests and elders about their own impending change in fortune.
In this Lenten season of preparation, let us consider the reversals of fortune we have experienced in our own lives, and what benefits we might receive from expanding our perspective, as in the story of Joseph; and not taking our positions in life for granted, like the priests and elders to whom Jesus spoke.
Links to the appointed readings for today: