Friday, March 9, 2012

For something greater...

The Lectionary continues to be a source of great awe in my spiritual life. I wish I knew them – the biblical scholars who redacted the whole of Sacred Scripture into a three-year cycle of readings [A, B & C]. There is a wisdom in their work – especially in the sacred seasons of Advent and Lent – that touches me deeply. The readings for this morning – an “ordinary” Lenten weekday – are stunning in both their unique power and in their relationship to one another. This morning we are given the juxtaposition of Joseph and Jesus – the Joseph stripped of his coat of many colors and Jesus of Nazareth the anointed of God. Both share the unfortunate status of beloved son. Joseph - born of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel – is the child of his old age and the fruit of his deepest love. Jesus, in today’s gospel, is the tragic hero of the parable he is telling – the vineyard owner’s son sent to bring peace and justice. “Surely, they will listen to my son,” the vineyard owner believes. Like Joseph stripped of his colors and thrown into a well of bitter envy, the son is dispatched by the workers - killed for his efforts on the Father's behalf.

How brilliant this connection of old and new! In both narratives envy is allowed to run its darkest course. And in both stories God uses the suffering of the innocent to become a blessing. Joseph is taken to Egypt where – through a series of struggles and divine interventions – he comes to power - power that will save the Hebrews from famine and death. And Jesus – stripped by human hands – lays aside his own glory and power to accept the suffering of death – the crushing isolation of being fully human. And because of his perfect obedience – because of the depth of his love for us and trust in the Father – God uses his sacrifice to bridge the divide of sin. God raises this gentle Jesus from the grave and in doing so raises us from the fear that has ruled the human condition. Death reigns no more.

I am in awe of this God who can make blessing from every suffering embraced and endured in the name of love. When we are misunderstood…when relationships end…when death claims one of our own…when failure trumps hope…when truth is lost in a sea of personal agendas…when justice is withheld by power…when violence is the currency of the nations…when we are stripped of our rainbow-colored coat…or nailed to some tree…then, if we offer that suffering – personal, communal and global – in prayer, the God of Jesus Christ will bring life from death. That is the promise made to Israel, the covenant sealed in the blood of Christ. Where there is real love, there is always sacrifice. Where there is sacrifice, there is always grace. Where there is grace, we find meaning. Where we find meaning, we know Christ's peace. Let us pray this day for all who are making some significant sacrifice for the love of God. It will be for something greater than we can see or imagine.

Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki