Leave the Distraction, Look for the Meaning
Saturday, July 8, 2023
by Fr. David M. Knight
View readings for Saturday, Week 13 Ordinary Time (A1): https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings LECTIONARY 382 (Gn 27: 1-5, 15-29; Ps 135: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6; Mt 9: 14-17) The Responsorial (Psalm 135) shows us the bias we should consciously adopt when reading Scripture and when evaluating everything in life: “Praise the Lord, for he is good.” This is the bias that lets us see truth. We can approach Genesis 27:1-29 this way, open to what God is telling us; or we can read this story from a stance of moral judgment, shocked by the lies Jacob told his father. But in the story, God is not making any statement about the morality of lying. We need to leave that issue aside as a distraction and hear what God is telling us. The story is about the destiny God gave Jacob and God’s fidelity to his promises. Jacob and Esau were twins, but Esau had the privilege of the elder son. God, however, had chosen Jacob to be the father of the Chosen People (Genesis 25:23). Moreover, Esau had sold his birthright to Jacob (25: 29-34). The point of the story is that God’s will was done. It is not making any point about the means. If we make that an issue, we are not interpreting Scripture but reading our own perspectives into it. We can, however, go beyond the point of the story and see if reflection evokes other insights. One does emerge: what really moved Isaac to give his blessing to Jacob was the nurturing care that Rebekah and Jacob gave to Isaac. The positive factor that accomplished God’s purpose was not deceit but ministry. And that is a point useful to us. God has promised to establish the reign of his love on earth. He is going to do it through the ministries we perform. Matthew 9: 14-17 (alternate Luke 2:41-51) tells us why it is taking so long for “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” to renew the face of the earth. Jesus did not come just to teach a higher morality and give us some enhanced religious practices. When John’s disciples asked, “Why do your disciples not fast?”, they were assuming there were certain things “holy” people did, like fasting, that made them holy. Religion meant doing the right things, and fasting was one of those things. If you did the right things, you were “righteous.” Goal achieved. Jesus explained that to be holy is to share God’s life through a union with Jesus more intimate than that of bridegroom and bride. He came to make us holy by giving us the “new wine “of divine life. Fasting has value as an expression of hunger and thirst for union with the Bridegroom. We make ourselves feel physical hunger in order to become more aware of our hunger for Christ. That is its real value. Awareness. In everything we do that we call “religious,” we should aim consciously at union of mind and heart with God. But for the culturally distorted human race to make this the goal of religion and of everything else in life takes time. Still, this must be the goal we keep in mind in all our ministry: to seek and foster graced union with the Father in Jesus: “through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.” (See John 2: 1-11; 13: 1-12; 14: 15-26 and the end of the Eucharistic Prayer.)
Initiative: Nurture awareness of the mystery of God’s presence in all.
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry