Readings and Reflection for March 18 (Friday in the Second Week of Lent)

Assumption University

A Delightful Lenten Journey

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Is that about me?

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parable, they realized that he was speaking about them. Those people found themselves in the parable even though Jesus did not exclusively speak about them. Some events had already happened and other acts would take place in the future. But when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus speaking, they identified themselves as characters in the story.


We too, when we listen to biblical stories, can identify ourselves as characters even though the stories are not talking about us explicitly. For example, when we read the story of Joseph, sometimes we identify ourselves with the Jacob who loves his son Joseph possessively because of his affection for Rachel. But sometimes we identify ourselves with the Jacob who finally sends his favorite son out to meet the other sons. Is Jacob unaware of the tension between his sons? In the past, with the help of his mother, Jacob stole the blessing of his elder brother. He was also very sly when he had to deal with challenges in his uncle’s house. It is difficult to imagine that the cunning Jacob suddenly becomes naive.


Another question arises here: If Jacob was aware of the conflict between his sons, why did he send Joseph to his brothers who were pasturing the flocks far away from home? One answer is: Jacob took a lot of time to understand how to become a good father. Before sending Joseph to his brothers, Jacob kept this beloved son alone at home. By doing so, he didn’t allow the confrontation to occur between Joseph and his other sons. Now, he has come to understand that a good father is someone who helps all his children to deal themselves with their differences and disagreements.


Notice that Jacob knew that his other sons were tending his flocks at Shechem. The name of this place reminds us of a murder. In fact, it was at Shechem that Jacob’s sons murdered the inhabitants of that town by a ruse. And so, Jacob took a great risk when he sent Joseph to his brothers there. Fortunately, Joseph did not find his brothers at Shechem. Instead, he reached them in Dothan. We are supposed to realize that a much worst thing could have happened to Joseph if he had met his brothers at Shechem.

The journey of different characters in the Bible is also our journey. It takes us a lot of time to move from a possessive love to a respect for the freedom and difference of others. By getting to know different characters in the Bible, we become more human. The Bible doesn’t avoid question of jealousy, hatred, violence, possessiveness and revenge. It tells us the real story of humanity in order to show us how to overcome our own feelings of animosity, hostility and brutality. Our weakness can be transformed into power only when we know how to deal with it.

Prayer: God of providence, help us to become more human through the ups and downs of life.

Resolution: Read my favorite story in the Bible and adopt the point of view of one character.