Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 32:23-33; Matthew 9:32-38)
Mike did so well in high school that he won a scholarship to a fine eastern university. In college he began to drink and then to use drugs. To cover up his addictions Mike lied and deceived family and friends. It was not long before he lost his scholarship and then failed out of school. He left for the west coast to start over but never left his bad habits. One day he tried riding his bicycle on the beach. Soon his tire got stuck in the sand, and Mike fell over. His situation –immobilized without the possibility of getting started again – reflected what was happening in Mike’s life. He knew that he had to take a radically different course if he was to fulfill his destiny. We see Jacob in an analogous situation today.
Jacob struggles with the man of God. The incident may be interpreted as a metaphor for Jacob’s troubled conscience, the voice of God. He knows that he swindled his brother Esau and now cannot sleep because of guilt. He also sinned by marrying two women and by having children outside of marriage. Jacob survives the encounter and even manages to extract a blessing from his opponent. But he knows that he will have to somehow reconcile with Esau. The blessing consists in his no longer being defined by his twin brother. At birth he was given the name Jacob meaning heel catcher. It was an apt name because he was born lurching after Esau who came out of their mother’s womb first. From now on, however, he will be called Israel after God Himself. The name means you have struggled with God.
We too know what it is like to struggle with God. We don’t like to admit sins against charity and much less against chastity. As God does not destroy Jacob, he will not abandon us because of our sins. Rather, He lets us know that we are His sons and daughters whom He is ready to forgive. He also blesses us when we take account of our sins and make amends for them.