Daily Homily: They Sold Joseph For Twenty Pieces of Silver

Second Week of Lent, Friday

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Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a

Psalm 105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21

Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46

When we hear the story of Joseph and his brothers, we cannot help but think of Jesus and the betrayal of Judas. Joseph was sold by his brothers as a slave for twenty-pieces of silver; Jesus was betrayed by Judas for thirty-pieces.

Another connection between Joseph and Jesus is found in the love of Jacob for his son, Joseph. The fathers of the Church see this allegory at work: «The multicolored robe prefigures the glory with which the Father clothed the son at his coming. And just as the sons of Jacob become enraged with the father’s beloved Joseph, so the Pharisees would flame with anger against Christ, though he was destined to be their superior» (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Genesis, 64).

The rejection of Joseph also brings to mind the rejection Jesus experienced. Jesus came to his own, but they received him not (John 1:11); he returned to Nazareth, his home-town, and was rejected (Luke 4:16-30).

The parable of the vineyard foresees the day when the chief priests and the pharisees would reject Jesus and demand the death of the Son of God. Not only is Jesus’ betrayed by one of his apostles (like Joseph), but he is condemned to death even though he is innocent (like Joseph). He is God, yet is condemned for blasphemy.

In the Book of Genesis, Joseph’s betrayal becomes a path of salvation for the people of Israel. In fact, Joseph will become second in command in Egypt and will save his brothers from famine. Jesus’ betrayal also becomes a path of salvation, not just for the people of Israel, but for all nations. In the Gospel, the killing of the Son also becomes a path of salvation that lifts the ancient curse. The communion antiphon reminds us of this truth: «God loved us, and sent his Son as expiation for our sins». Jesus learned obedience through his suffering and became our trust-worthy and merciful high-priest. As high-priest, he intercedes for us now at the right-hand of the Father, and gives to us the Kingdom to the degree that we allow him to rule in our hearts.

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Jason Mitchell

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