Today’s episode of the saga
of Jacob takes place at least twenty years after his famous dream that was
reported yesterday.In this long
interval Jacob has acquired two wives and twelve children.He has become rich by hard work, skill, and
cunning, but not through noticeable reliance on God. As he returns to his
father’s land and to his probably vengeful brother Esau, a man attacks
him.The two wrestle all night with neither
actually prevailing.Then the assailant,
in a hurry to leave, strikes Jacob at his hip which will bring about a limp.Still Jacob holds on tenaciously to make a
bargain with his opponent.He will
release him only if the man returns the favor with a blessing.The man gives Jacob a new name suggestive of
his new stature.From now on he is no
longer Jacob, a name which means heel catcher because he was born holding his
twin brother Esau’s heel, but Israel, a name indicating that he has struggled
with God and prevailed.
What are we to make of all
this?For most of his life to this point
Jacob has ignored God.As he is about to
encounter his brother Esau, however, God throws Himself on Jacob in an act of saving
grace.Jacob is forced to struggle with
God, who mercifully does not destroy him but leaves him limping as a constant
reminder of Jacob’s dependence.The
incident changes Jacob’s life entirely.He
is no longer defined by Esau, but by God whom he comes to acknowledge as Lord.
Perhaps we in our doubts and
fears also struggle with God.It may be that
out of love for God we always try to accommodate others.“Why,” we ask, “is it always I who must give
in?”Yes, we are a bit jaded by the
experience of forever making ourselves available.But we are also left closer to God who, we can
be sure, has bestowed on us His blessing.
Bilingual Roman Catholic priest of the Southern Dominican Province. Currently serving as rector of the St. Martin de Porres National Shrine and Institute in Memphis, TN. The "homilettes" on this website are completely his work. He may be contacted for preaching at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Telephone: (415) 279-9234.