Readings and Reflection for March 19 (Saturday in the Second Week of Lent)

Assumption University

A Delightful Lenten Journey

Click the arrow below to hear a member of the Assumption community read today’s Gospel.

The two sons of Jacob

In my family there are two Josephs. The good one which is my Dad and the other one which is myself! As you might know, in Vietnam, we receive our Christian name at our baptism. It is not a legal name, but it shapes our identity. I remember when I was a child, my Dad used to tell me a story before I went to bed. Most of his stories were based on the Bible but he had his own way of telling them. He liked to tell me the story of Joseph in Genesis. Perhaps because of that, a few years ago I decided to go further into that story. That is to say the stories that we hear in our family have an impact on our lives. In a special way, the life of different characters in the Bible models our way of living.

Old Joseph and new Joseph

In today’s Gospel, Matthew tells a story about Joseph for his Jewish community. Probably, the evangelist has in mind the story of Joseph in Genesis while writing his infancy narrative. It is therefore possible for us to see the connection between Joseph, the husband of Mary and Joseph in Genesis. They were both son of Jacob. Their lives were related to different dreams. They were known to be chaste. Their trip to Egypt was a way for them to avoid an immediate death. Their coming back from Egypt was related to the continuation of God’s promise.

Showing and telling

But most importantly, what was shown through the actions of Joseph in Genesis, now is told to us directly: Joseph was a righteous man. Here, we can see an important point from a narrative perspective: there is an interaction between showing and telling or an interaction between the narrative of words and the narrative of events. The Joseph of Genesis was considered to be a righteous man through his actions. The Joseph of the New Testament was confirmed as a righteous man by the author of the Gospel himself.

Readers and characters

The interaction between telling and showing and between us and the characters of the Bible is transformative. What the Bible tells about one character needs to be shown by our very actions. What the Bible shows through the actions of a character needs to be told by us from generation to generation. It is by telling what is shown and by showing what is told that we can form our identity. By doing so, we become more and more the persons we are meant to be.

Our identity is narrative and biblical. Through the actions of each character in the Bible, we can find the coherence of our own lives. We have access to ourselves through the mediation of stories. That is why stories become a mirror in which we read what is deep within us. They shape our lives. They give a meaning to our lives.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you are the one who was, who is and who is to come. Help us to form our identity according to your model.

Resolution: Learn by heart a story from the Bible and imitate the words and actions of one character in it.