Reflection for March 9, 2007

"The New Exodus"

Today's Mass Readings

In today’s Gospel reading we hear Jesus preaching an important but often overlooked aspect of salvation history in the form of a parable. He is basically telling certain Pharisees that God has been trying to reunite His scattered family by sending prophets, and now His Son, Jesus, God in the flesh. God’s people beat and killed the prophets, and now the Son of God will also be killed. Although it will be the Romans who kill Jesus, some of the religious leaders will consent to His death, and in fact seek it out. This is Jesus’ message to the particular Pharisees in his audience. They are upset with Him, probably not because Jesus has just insulted them (although they clearly recognize this) so much as that they probably recognize Jesus’ claim as being God’s Son, implying that He Himself is divine. This would be offensive to them.

The beautiful and amazing aspect of this story is that despite Jesus’ death, which we see alluded to here in this parable, God works an amazing wonder through Christ’s crucifixion. Not only is Jesus raised from the dead, but now salvation is open to all through Jesus’ death and resurrection. A horrible death by crucifixion turns into an amazing triumph for humanity. God often writes straight with crooked lines, so the saying goes. The first reading for today, from Genesis, also highlights this fact. Joseph is sold into slavery, after his brothers plot to kill him and then resolve to merely sell him into slavery. God transforms this tragedy into a miracle, whereby the entire Middle East is saved from impending famine. Through God’s guidance, Joseph is elevated to a high position in Egypt, from slavery to an office in Pharaoh’s court. In his high position in Egypt, and through God’s intervention, Joseph is able to help Egypt save enough food to help feed, not only Egypt, but the Middle East, including Joseph’s family, the Israelites, who then begin to dwell in Egypt. Eventually, the Israelites will become slaves in Egypt, and God again comes to their rescue freeing them from Egyptian bondage through the exodus.

Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are all saved in a new exodus, from slavery to sin to freedom in Christ. Jesus takes us from Egypt, our sins, into the promised land, heaven. Lent focuses on the cross of Christ, so that we may fully enjoy Jesus’ resurrection in Easter. The transformation from Lent to Easter is a great time to focus on how God transforms the evil in the world into beauty and joy.