Friday, March 21, 2014

A People That Will Produce Its Fruit

Friday of the Second Week of Lent

By Melanie Rigney

When (Joseph’s) brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him so much that they would not even greet him. (Genesis 37:4) 

Then (the Lord) called down a famine on the land, destroyed the grain that sustained them. He had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, sold as a slave. They shackled his feet with chains; collared his neck in iron, till his prediction came to pass, and the word of the Lord proved him true. The king sent and released him; the ruler of peoples set him free. He made him lord over his household (and) ruler over all his possessions. (Psalm 105:16-21)
(Concluding the parable of the tenants, Jesus told the chief priests and elders of the people:) “Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” (Matthew 21:43) 

Lord, free me from envy and from the desire to justify myself to those who envy me the gifts You have lavished on me.

Other than that “long ornamented tunic,” we don’t see any significant paternal favoritism toward Joseph. It’s not as if Jacob was physically, emotionally, or verbally abusive to his other sons; indeed, the New American Bible notes on this chapter include this observation: “Throughout the story, Jacob is unaware of the impact of his favoritism on his other sons.” But Joseph was the child of Jacob’s old age; Jacob was wiser, perhaps softer, perhaps had more time to get to know Joseph as a person than he had the others as they were growing up.

Sometimes, it feels like God plays favorites too, doesn’t it? One woman gets pregnant and has ease in childbearing; another finds it impossible to conceive. One man can’t not make money and be a professional success; another can’t keep a job and struggles to survive. It’s easy to become jealous and envious, as did Joseph’s brothers and the people in the parable of the tenants, and to exact “revenge” not on the One seen as showing the favoritism but on the one for whom life seems easy and free.

We diminish ourselves when we do this. For truly, finding favor with God is simply a matter of loving Him and loving our neighbors as ourselves. We can do it with God’s help, praising Him for all He has given us, or we can choose to focus on the gifts given others instead, knowing little or nothing of the price they paid or the secret sorrows and challenges they hold in their hearts. One path is the road to redemption… the other is filled with demons happy to commiserate with you. The choice is yours.

Just for today, stop yourself and pray the Lord’s Prayer whenever you find yourself thinking or saying someone else’s life is easier than yours.

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