2nd Friday of Lent
Genesis 37: 3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a; Matthew 21: 33-43, 45-46
As I was preparing this reflection, I came across Pope Francis beautiful prayer, O Cross of Christ. “O Cross of Christ, symbol of divine love and of human injustice, icon of the supreme sacrifice for love and of boundless selfishness even unto madness, instrument of death and the way of resurrection, sign of obedience and emblem of betrayal, the gallows of persecution and the banner of victory.” We have set before us: Joseph’s tunic, the token of his father’s love for him and the cross of Christ the token of God’s love for us. Through the cross as with the degradation of Joseph we see the comparison of God’s compassion and human cold-hearted cruelty.
“O Cross of Christ, today too we see you raised up in our sisters and brothers killed, burned alive, throats slit and decapitated by barbarous blades amid cowardly silence.” The author of Genesis recounts how the brothers grabbed Joseph, stripped him, threw him into the pit and then sat down to eat their meal. They did not even care that they were, in fact, their brother’s keepers. All they were worried about was filling their own bellies. It never dawned on them that Joseph might be cold, frightened and hungry. Their hearts had become so hardened that they no longer saw him as a man, but as a thing to be discarded.
“O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in those filled with knowledge and not with the spirit, scholars of death and not of life, who instead of teaching mercy and life, threaten with punishment and death, and who condemn the just.” The brothers of Joseph and the Pharisees standing around Jesus remind us how easy it is to objectify anyone we do not like or with whom we do not agree with. When a human being ceases to be respected for the gift he is, it is easy to dispose of him and make some profit in the process. Sophistication and scientific progress have cause us to forget that a human being is precious because he or she reflects the grandeur of God.
“O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the hardened hearts of those who easily judge others, with hearts ready to condemn even to the point of stoning, without ever recognizing their own sins and faults.” Joseph’s brothers were tired of hearing his dreams and the Pharisees were tired of hearing Jesus’ parables. Standing in the shadow of the cross, we discover that truth is stronger than hatred and eventually, it will be heard. And those who are willing to listen to it will be saved.
“O Cross of Christ, teach us that the rising of the sun is more powerful than the darkness of night. O Cross of Christ, teach us that the apparent victory of evil vanishes before the empty tomb and before the certainty of the Resurrection and the love of God which nothing can defeat, obscure or weaken. Amen!”