Monday, July 04, 2005



JULY 5, 2005

GENESIS 32:23-33
In the course of the night, Jacob arose, took his two wives, with the
two maidservants and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the
Jabbok. After he had taken them across the stream and had brought
over all his possessions, Jacob was left there alone. Then some man
wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When the man saw that he
could not prevail over him, he struck Jacob's hip at its socket, so
that the hip socket was wrenched as they wrestled. The man then
said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob said, "I will not
let you go until you bless me." The man asked, "What is your name?"
He answered, "Jacob." Then the man said, "You shall no longer be
spoken of as Jacob, but as Israel, because you have contended with
divine and human beings and have prevailed." Jacob then asked
him, "Do tell me your name, please." He answered, "Why should you
want to know my name?" With that, he bade him farewell. Jacob named
the place Peniel, "Because I have seen God face to face," he
said, "yet my life has been spared." At sunrise, as he left Penuel,
Jacob limped along because of his hip. That is why, to this day, the
children of Israel do not eat the sciatic muscle that is on the hip
socket, inasmuch as Jacob's hip socket was struck at the sciatic

MATTHEW 9:32-38
A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus, and when the
demon was driven out the mute man spoke. The crowds were amazed and
said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel." But the
Pharisees said, "He drives out demons by the prince of demons."
Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their
synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every
disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved
with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like
sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest
is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the
harvest to send out laborers for his harvest."

The events of yesterday's first reading and today's are separated by
about twenty years. Jacob had hurriedly fled from his homeland
because Esau, furious about being cheated of his birthright, had
threatened to kill him.

During these twenty years Jacob had become very wealthy, to a great
extent because of his clever manipulation of people with whom he did
business. Now the patriarch is returning to the Promise Land. He's
fearful, dreadfully fearful that he will be encountering Esau once
again. Just before today's reading Jacob pleads with Yahweh to
protect him from Esau's clutches. (As it turns out, he need not have
worried. Esau was delighted to be reunited with his bother after
twenty years of separation.)

The incident described in today's first reading is quite mysterious.
The person who enters into an all night wrestling match with Jacob is
not identified in the text. In general, however, commentators tend to
see Jacob's foe as God himself. God's struggle with Jacob is an
attempt to induce him to undergo a conversion.

Before this incident Jacob had been a wheeling-dealing rogue. He
lived by his wits but his wits were innocent of all ethical and moral
restraints. After this incident Jacob became a model of propriety,
behaving as one would expect the patriarch of a great nation to
behave. The wrestling match with God symbolizes a moral crisis in
Jacob's life, inner turmoil at a time when he struggled with God,
each wanting to possess his soul.

During the struggle Jacob clung determinedly to his foe and insisted
he would not let him go unless he would first bless him. Yahweh did
bless him, changing his name to Israel, which means "one who has
contended with God." Jacob emerges from this inner turmoil wounded,
but victorious, for he has won a blessing from God. God too is
victorious, for Jacob is now Israel, the patriarch who will cooperate
with Yahweh in establishing a nation that will be God's own people.

God has often struggled with each of us. And his motivation is
pretty much the same as when he struggled with Jacob. He wants us to
undergo conversion. Perhaps things would go better with us, were we,
in the midst of what might be, perhaps even a titanic struggle with
God, were we to ask of God a blessing.

"Lord, may your kingdom come to all who are oppressed and in
darkness. Fill my heart with compassion for the lonely, the
oppressed, and for those around me who do not know your love and
freedom. Use me to bring the good news of your saving love and

We pray ...
- for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the
- for the personal intentions of Mary Anne.
- for the personal intentions of JP.
- for the personal intentions of Lydia and family.
- for the personal intentions of those who are sick, especially Rich
M, Edith & Von from FL.
- for the prayer intentions of Julie.
- for the prayer intentions of Julie and Joseph Dyhengco. May they
continue to put God in the center of their lives and may God continue
to bless them and their children.
- for the speedy recovery of Ernesto Hernandez.
- for the personal intentions of Joey Devela.
- for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- Birthday: Diane Sim
- for world peace and reconciliation.

Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our
prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.

Have a good day!

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