Friday of the Second Week of Lent
(Genesis 37:3-4.12-13a.17b-28a; Matthew 21:33-43.45-46)
Today’s gospel demonstrates a very important principle of Christian use of Hebrew Scriptures or, more exactly, the Old Testament. Some may ask why the Hebrew Scriptures matter. Indeed in the early Church a famous heretic named some claimed that they didn’t and wanted to get rid of them. But those Scriptures help Christians understand their Lord.
It is not only that the Old Testament gives Jesus’ background so that we know the books that Jesus read and the heroes whom Jesus emulated. Also, Christians read the Old Testament as leading up to Christ. The characters and the images that these Scriptures employ become types for Christ. Type here is a technical term meaning the piece of metal which presses against ink to leave an image on paper. What’s truly important, what is read and transmits wisdom is not the type but the image. In this way the Church sees Joseph of the first reading today as a type of Christ who is delivered into the hands of foreigners but eventually saves his people. “The stone that the builders rejected,” mentioned in today’s gospel, is another example of a type that refers to Jesus as the cornerstone of God’s whole creation.
Often the Old Testament challenges us. It is much longer and more arcane than the New Testament. It can even seem outrageous to read aloud. Nevertheless, we must study it if we are to know and love more our Lord Jesus Christ.