Joseph, Jesus, and Jealousy
Jealousy is an interesting emotion to sit with during Lent’s middle dredges. Jealousy hopefully sits on the outside of the skin to be dealt with honestly and quickly. When it sits inside and festers it can lead to egregious errors or even sin. The mystery of taking forty days in our liturgical calendar to examine our lives and repent of harm caused is opportunity.
Today’s reading from Genesis challenges us with a story about jealousy. Do we see ourselves as Joseph’s brothers— the ones who spent their lives being tattled on by a younger, favored brother? Or can we see Joseph’s side— as a younger brother just wanting to play with his older, cool brothers? Can you guess where I fit in birth order?
In the gospel parable of the landowner and his son, Jesus lets the chief priests and Pharisees know that he sees their jealousy and underhanded moves to bring him to trial, and ultimately to death. He sees their injustices and the people they ignore. He sees that they are master builders who reject him, the cornerstone. He was not subtle in calling out their injustices, double standards, and failings.
I’ve often been jealous: jealous of what others have and what is obviously missing in my life. By staying jealous, I distance myself from God’s invitation and call. But through prayer, and a desire to be in right relationship with God and others, I’m able to recall the giftedness of the persons of whom I’m jealous.
Here in Lent’s tedious and exhausting middle, we can consider the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers, Joseph himself, the Pharisees and chief priests, and the gathered disciples, and ask: What about us?
As we reflect, Jesus challenges us with words from today’s gospel: “Don’t you read the scriptures?” And when we do, how do we respond?
- Do we shift in discomfort as the religious leaders did to Jesus’ teaching and words?
- Do we seek comfort in the ‘dis’ease of Lent’s middle, seeking an easy option?
- Or, can we embrace the comfort of knowing that while others may reject the cornerstone, we find it – we find Jesus- as a guide?
Genevieve Mougey is the Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Wyoming.