Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Scripture readings are reminding us in the midst of this blessed season of Lent, of the dangers of the pride, ego and jealousy that are often found in the hearts and minds of men. Very quickly all of these can lead us into sin, as the Scripture readings today presented before us the example of Joseph and his brothers as well as the parable of the vineyard owner as mentioned by the Lord Jesus.
In the first reading today we heard of the story of how Joseph and his brothers, the sons of Jacob or Israel, came to conflict because of the jealousy that existed between them. In order to understand this better, we must understand that Joseph was born from Jacob’s favourite wife, and was born in his old age, and therefore, Joseph was really doted on by Jacob as a favourite son. It is inevitable that the brothers of Joseph became jealous at such a treatment.
That was why we heard how they plotted to have Joseph killed, thinking that if Joseph was killed, then they would not have him in their midst any longer and became a rival to their father’s attention and even inheritance. To them, even though he was of their own flesh and blood as their own brother, but they did not hesitate to commit such a heinous and wicked crime just because of their jealousy, the ego, pride and greed in their hearts.
Thankfully, Reuben, the eldest son of Jacob, heard of the brothers’ plan and told them to think in a more reasonable manner, and therefore, not to kill Joseph but in the end, selling him off to a Midianite caravan that brought Joseph to Egypt. And God turned the wicked acts of the brothers of Joseph into something good, as Joseph came to be the Viceroy of Egypt and prepared the way for his whole family to come to Egypt and be saved during the seven years of great famine.
In the Gospel passage today, we heard then the Lord Jesus in the parable with which He taught the people, on a vineyard owner who leased out his vineyard to tenants, who became greedy and haughty, proud and ambitious, in refusing to obey the terms of agreement in the tenancy. In fact, they plotted against the owner, his workers and servants, and even the son of the owner, when they were sent to remind the wicked tenants to fulfil their agreement.
This was in fact a representation of how wicked men treated the prophets of God and eventually, God’s own Beloved Son, Jesus Christ Himself. The owner of the vineyard is the Lord, the vineyard is the world and all creation, the messengers and servants are the prophets and the servants of God, and the son of the owner is the Lord Jesus, Saviour and Lord, Who was betrayed, rejected and condemned to death by those who refused to listen to the Lord, just as the wicked tenants put the son of the owner to death.
All of these happened, just as Joseph was ill-treated and almost put to death by his own brothers, because of jealousy, because of desire, because of the pride and ego that fill up our hearts and minds. When we start to desire for worldly acclamations, influence, fame, glory, joy and other forms of temptations that are always around us, we will find that we will not be able to have peace in mind, because we will end up plotting against each other and being unhappy, because others have what we ourselves do not have, and vice versa.
In this season of Lent, all of us are called to break off from this vicious cycle of greed and desire, of pride and ego. That is why we practice fasting and abstinence, to restrain our inner desires and the wicked temptations that are always trying to pull us to commit sin by being jealous to one another. We are called to practice this restrain to prevent us from falling deeper and deeper into the traps of sin.
And that is why we are also encouraged to be charitable and give almsgiving during this period, because rather than grumbling and being angry and jealous at what we do not have, we should instead share what we have with each other, that instead of us all being unhappy at one another, why not if we can be happy together as a community and family of God’s people together?
Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, drawing from the wisdom of the Lord in the Scriptures, as well as from our own human experiences, in which we must have experienced a lot of injustice, anger and pain, suffering and hurt from actions of ours that are selfish and prideful, let us all turn away from these wicked thoughts and deeds, and commit ourselves anew in this season of Lent and beyond, to be true and loving disciples of the Lord from now on. May God bless us always, in all of our good endeavours, in loving one another and in being ever more selfless, now and always. Amen.