Meditation for Friday of the 2nd Week of Lent

It is all too easy to identify ourselves with the vineyard in today’s Gospel and likewise identify the Pharisees of Jesus’ time with the "wretched men" who were the tenants of the vineyard.  This is probably because the reading ends with "they knew that he was speaking about them."  The problem with this line of thinking is just because the Pharisees are correct in their self-indictment, that does not mean they are the only ones that can be identified as "wretched men".
Many of us are guilty of selling (or even killing) our brother for some personal gain. 
  • Whenever we snitch on somebody in order to advance ourselves, either professionally or personally, we have sold them out or killed their reputation, which makes us as guilty as the wretched tenants or Joseph’s brothers.
  • When we use illegal aliens or foreign labor at sub-minimum wages, so we can have cheaper goods, we have sold our brothers into slavery as Judah did to Joseph.
  • When we have criminals killed, rather than incarcerated for life, because it’ll save taxpayer dollars; or when we have the elderly or extremely ill (but still living) killed, because their bills are draining our inheritance; or when we kill babies in the womb, because a baby at this time would be inconvenient or an "undue burden"; or when we create life, for the sole purpose of destroying it for medical research, in the hopes that it will prolong our own lives – we have become, not just "wretched men", but a wretched nation!

The nation of Israel (which, at the time of Joseph, was just the family or tribe of Israel) was, indeed, wretched all around, and was made to suffer a severe drought.  The only salvation for the tribe of Israel came from the very one they had persecuted and nearly killed.  Do we, as members of the wretched nation, try to prevent the destruction of those marked for death by others, as Reuben tried to do for Joseph?

Remember that national guilt is an easy trap to fall into – "I’m not responsible for these atrocities… society is to blame!"  Society is made up of individuals making independent decisions.  This is especially true of a democratic society, in which each person can contribute to the decisions of the nation as a whole.  Therefore, blaming a faceless, soulless society for our individual, collective sins does not give us an excuse when brought before the Father for the deaths and slavery of his children.

Pray for our nation, that it will turn from slavery and death, and pray that we will have the strength to be a voice for the voiceless.

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