22 March 2019
Israel loved Joseph more than all his other sons, for he was the son of his old age, and he had a coat with long sleeves made for him. But his brothers, seeing how his father loved him more than all his other sons, came to hate him so much that they could not say a civil word to him.
His brothers went to pasture their father’s flock at Shechem. Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Are not your brothers with the flock at Shechem? Come, I am going to send you to them.’ So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.
They saw him in the distance, and before he reached them they made a plot among themselves to put him to death. ‘Here comes the man of dreams’ they said to one another. ‘Come on, let us kill him and throw him into some well; we can say that a wild beast devoured him. Then we shall see what becomes of his dreams.’
But Reuben heard, and he saved him from their violence. ‘We must not take his life’ he said. ‘Shed no blood,’ said Reuben to them ‘throw him into this well in the wilderness, but do not lay violent hands on him’ – intending to save him from them and to restore him to his father. So, when Joseph reached his brothers, they pulled off his coat, the coat with long sleeves that he was wearing, and catching hold of him they threw him into the well, an empty well with no water in it. They then sat down to eat.
Looking up they saw a group of Ishmaelites who were coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, tragacanth, balsam and resin, which they were taking down into Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What do we gain by killing our brother and covering up his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let us not do any harm to him. After all, he is our brother, and our own flesh.’ His brothers agreed.
Now some Midianite merchants were passing, and they drew Joseph up out of the well. They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty silver pieces, and these men took Joseph to Egypt.
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son” he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:
It was the stone rejected by the builders
that became the keystone.
This was the Lord’s doing
and it is wonderful to see?
‘I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’
When they heard his parables, the chief priests and the scribes realised he was speaking about them, but though they would have liked to arrest him they were afraid of the crowds, who looked on him as a prophet.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes
Today’s first reading about Joseph being sold as a slave by his own brothers is a particularly hard one to swallow. To be rejected and ill-treated is already soul-crushing in itself, but rejection to the point of being cut-off by your kin, killed or obliviated from the face of this earth… There are no words for that. We have all faced rejection in varying degrees at some point in our lives and we well know the pain and heartache. To wake up each morning and feel as though the pain is suffocating you, that each heavy step forward is like lead on our feet, and in our suffering and despair to be unable to fathom that there is even a light at the end of it – how indeed will it ever get better?
If you think that God does not hear or understand, think again. God so loved us that He gave us His only Son that we may not die, but have everlasting life. Jesus was rejected by his own people, spat at, scourged, and crucified on the cross. He bled for us, wept for us, and suffered for us, even though we turned our backs on him. Jesus was rejected, so that we may be accepted. God turned that rejection into something marvelous, something life-saving, even though it took a while to manifest, and even when it escaped all our understanding as to how such a tragedy could be turned into something miraculous. Our current suffering may seem terribly bleak at the moment that it is hard to comprehend what kind of miracle can be wrought from it, but do remember… that a diamond only looks like a rock until it undergoes years of pressure, hewn from the rock face and polished to its brilliance.
I can understand why some people are driven to suicide, and we, as a people, must not judge them. We need to ask if we have done enough to help them. Rejection is a lonely, desolate place, and in the midst of the barrenness, one cannot ask for help, for one cannot see where the help is. We, from the outside looking in, have to extend that help. But taking your life is not the answer, even though at the time there seems no other way. Our lives do not belong to us, our lives are a gift from God, and bought for us at a heavy, heavy price, by someone who understands the meaning of sacrifice, the meaning of rejection and despair. Salvation followed the crucifixion. Life comes after loss. Hope comes after despair.
(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord, we pray for those who are troubled in their hearts, whose burdens are heavy and whose roads seem blocked. Help them see that there IS light. There IS love. There IS hope. And may we, as a people, be there to help them, and not turn our countenance away from those who need help the most.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for the price that was paid for us, for our lives, so that we may live and be accepted. We give thanks for the sacrifice that was made out of the greatest love of all.