By the Rt Revd Stephen Platten
Our readings today begin with the saga of Joseph, one of the most beautiful narratives in the Old Testament. Joseph’s handsome appearance and attractive personality make others jealous. The interpretation of the dream which shows Joseph as master over his brothers is the final straw. He is thrown into the pit and left to die. Later he will thrive in Egypt and become the salvation of his family who become the model Israel. Christians down the ages have often seen Joseph as ‘a type of Christ’, one who suffers and then brings salvation. Our psalm echoes a similar theme – how long will we be forgotten and left to suffer? Despite feelings of despair, the psalmist remains faithful – he knows in his heart of God’s enduring love.
In Matthew’s gospel we read Jesus’ parables describing the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven. Of all the versions of the parable of the sower (it is there in Mark’s and Luke’s gospel too) this is perhaps the most elaborately drawn. Here Jesus is the teacher of the kingdom of heaven in all its richness. The same temptations and dangers seen in the Joseph stories are there and they are set in the images of the parable: evil can snatch away the seeds, people will not root themselves deeply in the life of the kingdom, but ultimately it is a gospel story, a tale of the good news, offered graciously by God in Jesus, bring forth fruit.
Here too is a feast of shorter parables, of the wheat and the weeds, of the mustard seed, of the yeast, the treasure hidden in a field, the pearl of great price. Each helps fashion a picture of the kingdom which Jesus himself inaugurates. The trials and temptations of our own lives are not far away in these vivid stories and they connect us with the gospel of hope.
How can we offer hope to others as we read these vivid stories of Joseph and from Jesus’ parables?
Reflect upon the great variety of images of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew chapter 13 and see how this builds a three dimensional picture of God’s will for us upon which we can place our own experience.
Father, through your gracious generosity we are created and redeemed, open our hearts to be channels of your love that our lives may be fashioned in the pattern of Jesus Christ our Lord.