Franciscan Spirit Blog

Lent with the Saints: The Patriarch Joseph

Lent with the Saints: Joseph

Genesis 37:3–4, 12–13a, 17b–28a; Psalm 105:16–17, 18–19, 20–21; Matthew 21:33–43, 45–46

Two biblical characters are the subject of Broadway musicals by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, and both are featured in today’s readings. They are Joseph, the son of Israel (Jacob) in Genesis, and Jesus, the “superstar” of Matthew’s Gospel! Webber seized on the detail of Joseph’s coat (here simply a “long tunic”) as the launch point for one musical. But there’s much in the Joseph story to entertain.

Joseph the dreamer is the victim of violence at the hands of his jealous brothers. He goes on to have interesting adventures in Egypt and rises to become Pharaoh’s adviser in a time of famine. The story ends happily as Joseph helps to save his family and is reunited with them.

Jesus’ story, as prefigured in a parable Jesus tells to his opponents in today’s Gospel, parallels that of Joseph. In the story, the son of a property owner is murdered by the hired hands. It is a clear message to Jesus’ enemies that they had placed themselves in opposition to God.

Their plot against Jesus will, in the end, find them disinherited. Matthew was a great storyteller. He drew on the Joseph in Genesis to enrich his portrait of the Joseph in the infancy story with which Matthew began his Gospel. There, another Joseph dreams, goes to Egypt, and protects the child in his care, who will grow up to save his people.

Today’s Action

Listen to a selection from the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat or read the Genesis citation from today’s First Reading. Reflect on the power of the biblical story to lead us to a deeper understanding of God.


God of the patriarchs, fill us with the power of the great stories of our faith.
May we find our own stories in the pages of salvation history.

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