18TH MARCH 2022
Providence at Work
Gen. 37:3-4.12-13a.17b-28, Ps105, Mtw 21:33-43. 45-46
The story of Jacob’s sons, which we hear in our first reading, is told in some detail (Gen 37-50) in the final section of Genesis. It has one overriding motif expressed in Joseph’s words to his brothers: “Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve his purpose, the survival of many ” (50:19-20). God can bring a complicated, mixed-up and even misguided life to a positive end, even for our enemies and for those who cared little for us. It was through Joseph’s perseverance that the twelve tribes survived, to flourish in Egypt where they developed their distinctive religious unity. In Jesus’ case, his rejection by the Jewish leaders led to a gloriously new Israel, joining Jew and Gentile in one family (Romans 11).
The survival of Joseph and the destiny of Jesus demonstrate God’s providence. A divine plan reaches and permeates our existence. At times we may have a passing glimpse of it, other times we have the intuition in prayer, yet always we are being directed and guided by it. Jesus refers to this guiding plan of his Heavenly Father in his frequent references to the Hebrew Scriptures. The earliest Christians firmly believed in a worldwide plan in the mind of God, culminating in Jesus. In today’s parable Jesus quotes from Psalm 118: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the keystone. It was the Lord who did this and we find it marvellous to behold!”
The Season of Lent ought to put us into closer touch with the depth of spirit within us. Selfishness and false ambition should be set aside in our prayer, Bible study and other devotional practices. Lent helps us to begin all over again to “dream” our best ideals, planted in us by God. This can renew our conviction that God’s mysterious providence is in effective control of our lives. It offers serenity even in the face of problems and disappointments if we can see that God directs everything towards some good. If this belief of Joseph becomes our own we see a marvellous effect, a truly rich harvest of grace.