CROOKED LINES

Friday, 2nd Week of Lent  

            “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

            There is an old saying: “God draws straight with crooked lines.” It is a comment which fits the story of Joseph in the Old Testament which we have just heard in today’s first reading.

            Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. As he was led away to Egypt, Joseph did not in any way realize how God would use that evil deed to save his brothers and their families from starvation. You know the touching story of how Joseph rescued his people during a time of famine after he had come to great authority in Egypt.

            The same comment can be made about today’s parable from the New Testament. The son, murdered by the tenant farmers, represents Jesus himself. Charles Miller, in his commentary on this gospel passage, says, “The farmers through their evil deed hoped to have the son’s inheritance.” “As a matter of fact, the death of Jesus brought the grace of his heavenly inheritance to the whole world.” “God used the malice of some men to bring supreme good to all humankind.”

            We sometimes wonder where God’s plan is to be found. We see natural disasters, calamities, or catastrophes; we see conflicts and wars in many parts of the world. In our family we experience troubles and problems, betrayal and brokenness, separation and divorce. In our own personal lives, we experience pain and suffering, failure and lack of fulfillment, disappointment and frustration. At the moment, like Joseph, we cannot see why God tolerates all these evils – let alone how he will use them to accomplish his good purposes. We are burdened with painfully heavy questions: “Why are these bad things happening?” “Why is God allowing them?” “Why is God not doing anything to prevent them?”

            We must never be fooled into suspecting that somehow God has lost control of human affairs or that evil has become so powerful that even God cannot draw good from it. I like how Charles Miller puts it, “Though it is true that God could prevent all evil, in his supreme wisdom and for his own good reasons he has chosen to draw straight with crooked lines.” Another way of putting it is: “In his time, God makes all things beautiful…. in his time.”

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