Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 28:10-22a; Matthew 9:18-26)
Young men and women from Asia, Africa, and South America are leaving in droves. They seek opportunity in Europe and North America where jobs will pay ten times as much as they receive at home. They are not unlike Jacob as he leaves home in today’s first reading.
Jacob has demonstrated self-centeredness as he has just stolen the birthright of his older brother. Now he is off seeking adventure although, to be sure, an angry Esau provides more than enough motive for him to leave home. He is also taken up by experience as he describes the site of his dream in a peculiarly contemporary fashion -- “awesome.” And, again like contemporary youth, he is reluctant to commit himself beyond promising allegiance to God if God continues to bless him. What advice might be given Jacob?
We would tell him that which we have to remind ourselves. There is much to learn about life. We have to understand that the world does not revolve around us. In fact, other people have needs that not only are different from ours but also, at times, demand our attention. Also, we must take to heart that God remains as the one whose commands are to be heeded. Pope Benedict XVI tells a story about himself that illustrates this lesson. Right after being ordained to the priesthood, he returned to his hometown in Bavaria for his first mass. The townspeople prepared elaborate festivities for their simple faith stood them in awe that one of their own could now turn bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. The young Fr. Ratzinger had to remind himself continually as he was receiving royal treatment, “This is not about you, Joseph. This is not about you.”