Friday, July 08, 2005

Jacob's Journey (today's homily)

In the first reading, God speaks to Jacob at night.

The last time something like this happened,
Jacob had a dream as he slept at Bethel—
many years earlier, when he fled from his brother Esau,
after cheating him.

We recall, when Jacob went to live with his kinsman,
he, himself, was cheated;
And he connived and bargained,
and had all sorts of family troubles:
two wives, children by two maidservants: a mess!

I want to compare the earlier encounter—
back in Genesis 28—with this one, today.

In the earlier vision, he sees angels
going up and down on a stairway to heaven.
God promises land and many descendants,
and to be with Jacob—all the promises given Abraham.

Jacob responds:
“If you will be with me
and protect me on the journey…
and give me food and clothing,
if I return safely to my father’s home,
then you will be my God.”

Hear that bargain!?
God, in contrast, had no “ifs” in his promises!

Today’s reading comes many, many years later.
He is an old man now.

God speaks—
the text suggests Jacob hasn’t heard God in awhile;

maybe he wasn’t listening.

But all Jacob says, this time, is “Yes, here I am.”

God says, “Don’t be afraid…I will go with you…
I will bring your descendants back.”

And Jacob goes. No argument.

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