Today’s two readings remind us of what Lent is all about. During Lent, we remember that our Lord, who came down from heaven to earth to save us from our sins and re-connect us with the love of God, our Lord paid the price for our many sins by laying down his own life.
Probably some of our students remember the story from the first reading because, just two years ago, we staged a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. We know that Joseph’s jealous brothers ended up selling him into slavery in Egypt, but that in Egypt he became a powerful and talented government official who ended up saving many people, including his own brothers, from starvation during a famine.
The parallels here between Joseph and Jesus are many. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt; Jesus came to take away our slavery to sin. Joseph’s own brothers plotted to kill him; Jesus was killed by us, his brothers and sisters. Joseph fed the known world at that time by storing up grain for the day of famine; Jesus fed the multitudes, and us, with the bread that comes down from heaven. Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver; Judas was given thirty pieces of silver to hand Jesus over to death. Joseph, in many ways, was a foreshadowing of Jesus.
In our Gospel today, Jesus tells a parable which is a foreshadowing of what will soon happen to him. The vineyard owner, God the Father, is looking for the fruit of the harvest, which is our faith. Instead, the people of old beat and murdered the prophets who came to give God’s word, just as the messengers of the vineyard owner were beaten and murdered. And finally, when God, the vineyard owner, sends his own Son, he was killed too.
The people of Jesus’ day missed the foreshadowing, they missed the parallels, they didn’t get that God was continually reaching out to them to gather them in faith. But we know the story, all of it, and we can’t be like them. We have to be ready to hear the truth and act on it, to see Jesus in other people and respond to him, to live the Word he speaks to us and live that Word in faith each day.
God loved us so much that he gave us his only begotten Son; we have to treasure that gift and let it make us new people. That’s what Lent is all about, friends. Lent means “springtime,” and it has to see new growth in us, so that we can be a vineyard of faith to give joy to the world.