Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Genesis 32:23-33; Matthew 9:32-38)

Homero Aridjis is a Mexican poet and environmentalist. At the age of ten he was almost killed in a shotgun accident. Today he sees that experience as shaping his life. Since that time he has lost interest in hunting and has become passionately concerned with defending the environment. He now sees his own survival connected with that of birds and butterflies. In the reading from Genesis Jacob undergoes a similar life-changing experience.

Jacob has left his father-in-law’s ranch a wealthy man. His own wits, not God, made him rich. When he meets God as he wrestles with the stranger, Jacob is struggling with his conscience, the voice of God, for swindling his brother Esau years before. Jacob prevails; that is, he is not destroyed in the encounter but survives and even extracts a blessing from his opponent. He will no longer be defined by his brother since Jacob means heel catcher because he was born lurching after Esau who came out of his mother’s womb first. From now on he will be called after God Himself since Israel is said to mean you have struggled with God.

We too know what it is like to struggle with God when we ask ourselves questions like, “Did I dwell too long on an impure thought?” or “Would it be wrong to leave work early without permission?” As God does not destroy Jacob, he does not abandon us because of our sins. Rather, He lets us know that we are His sons and daughters whom He forgives and blesses when we honestly take account of our actions.