God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son;
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life (JN 3:16).
Jealousy, resentment, and anger, all destructive emotions, nearly consume Joseph’s brothers: “When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him so much that they would not even greet him” (GN 37:4). So, at first they shun him; next, they plot to kill him; finally, they sell him into slavery. In attempting to destroy their brother, they allow their negative emotions to nearly destroy themselves. Joseph’s purity of heart and intention are his saving graces, and they prove to be a salvation for his family, too. He saves his family, not only from the physical starvation caused by the famine, but more importantly from the spiritual desert, the most deadly form of starvation. Joseph is truly their oasis. He takes them from starvation to salvation.
Similarly, Jesus’ parable about the vicious vineyard tenants in today’s Gospel reading angers the chief priests and Pharisees. They are jealous of Jesus and deeply resent him: “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them” (MT 21:45-46). Just like Joseph’s brothers and those heartless tenants, the chief priests and Pharisees follow the caravan of jealousy, resentment, and anger into the moral desert. While the chief priests and Pharisees succeed in their plot to kill Jesus; it is a brief victory indeed. Surprise! Three days later, Jesus rises from the dead! Their evil no match for Jesus’ incomparable love!
Let us take some time during this exceptional Season of Lent to explore our own emotional desert: Are we letting any negative emotions drive us into the desert wasteland to separate us from the oasis of purity of heart and intention? Are we letting anything separate us from God? Let Jesus rise in our hearts.