Friday 18 March 2022: Genesis 37:3-4,12-13,17-28; Psalm 104(105):16-21; Matthew 21:33-43,45-46
Our first reading today is so well known, due to numerous plays and west end musicals, that one should take care not to assume we know the story. Not helped by the need to reduce and edit the text from Genesis to fit this into a liturgy of the word - it certainly does pay today to study the whole of chapter 37 and then 39 - 47 in Genesis to see the entire story. (Chapter 38 is the interlude, the story of Judah and Tamar).
If we compare with the story of the Vineyard Owners' heir in todays Gospel to Josephs' story we may see some parallels. They are both mis-treated, unjustly and harshly. Both may well have been the victim of jealousy - that rather human tendency to be put out by others who seem to have more. But this is not God's way. God uses the young, the weak, the poor but also will use the well off, those who come into good times (as Joseph did) and will bring all together into his Kingdom. Those who start out as victims of jealousy or some other kind of -ism, like racism, sexism, clericalism, will have their proper place in the well ordered kingdom of God.
The tragedy of the chief priests and the scribes was, although they knew very well the story of Joseph, and understood Jesus' parable of the vineyard (the vineyard being an image of Israel from the work of the prophet Isaiah) they could not accept him - and that led to their ruin. They held too tightly to their power, their spiritual and material wealth, and their control over others - not realising that all of these would be taken from them to benefit those who could use them well (as did Joseph, for the Egyptians and eventually for his brothers). We now have the benefit of all three to learn from.