July 8, 2019 – Monday 14th Week in Ordinary Time
From the Book of Genesis (28:10-22)
Jacob departed from Beer-sheba and proceeded toward Haran.
When he came upon a certain shrine, as the sun had already set,
he stopped there for the night.
Taking one of the stones at the shrine, he put it under his head
and lay down to sleep at that spot.
Then he had a dream: a stairway rested on the ground,
with its top reaching to the heavens;
and God’s messengers were going up and down on it.
And there was the LORD standing beside him and saying:
“I, the LORD, am the God of your forefather Abraham
and the God of Isaac;
the land on which you are lying
I will give to you and your descendants.
These shall be as plentiful as the dust of the earth,
and through them you shall spread out east and west, north and south.
In you and your descendants
all the nations of the earth shall find blessing.
Know that I am with you;
I will protect you wherever you go,
and bring you back to this land.
I will never leave you until I have done what I promised you.”
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he exclaimed,
“Truly, the LORD is in this spot, although I did not know it!”
In solemn wonder he cried out: “How awesome is this shrine!
This is nothing else but an abode of God,
and that is the gateway to heaven!”
Early the next morning Jacob took the stone
that he had put under his head,
set it up as a memorial stone, and poured oil on top of it.
He called the site Bethel,
whereas the former name of the town had been Luz.
Jacob then made this vow: “If God remains with me,
to protect me on this journey I am making
and to give me enough bread to eat and clothing to wear,
and I come back safe to my father’s house, the LORD shall be my God.
This stone that I have set up as a memorial stone shall be God’s abode.”
The Gospel of Matthew (9:18-26)
While Jesus was speaking, an official came forward,
knelt down before him, and said,
“My daughter has just died.
But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.”
Jesus rose and followed him, and so did his disciples.
A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him
and touched the tassel on his cloak.
She said to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.”
Jesus turned around and saw her, and said,
“Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.”
And from that hour the woman was cured.
When Jesus arrived at the official’s house
and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion,
he said, “Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping.”
And they ridiculed him.
When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand,
and the little girl arose.
And news of this spread throughout all that land.
How do you approach people around you? Each of us has our own way of approaching and relating with people around us. We could be warm and welcoming to our dear friends. We could be pleasing to people whom we ask for help. We could be bitter to people to whom we get jealous at their success. We can be flattering to people who also seek recognition and praise. And we could also display an indifferent and unkind attitude to people who may be different from us in terms of what we believe, or culture, or principles or even of status.
The readings we have heard today tell us about the kind of approach or relating that God showed to us. So, let us briefly explore them and see how God also invites us to learn in relating with one another.
In the Book of Genesis, we have Jacob who ran away from home because of fear. The lie and deception that he made with his mother Rebekah towards his Father, earned him an angry and bitter treatment from his twin-brother, Esau. Though by right, Jacob was the rightful heir of the birthright but Isaac favored his other son, Esau. Isaac, in a way went against what God planned by giving the blessing to Esau. Yet, Rebekah wanted to preserved that, by also deceiving her husband and another son in favor of her favorite, Jacob. Indeed, Jacob received the blessing from his father, Isaac, but it left the family in great trouble.
The family relationship had been ruined by their own fault, of Isaac from going against the plan of God and of Rebekah by insinuating deception. And now Esau was after the life of his brother Jacob. Yet, God’s plan cannot be prevented by any human sin and weakness. Instead, God turned this tragedy into a blessing . And we have heard, how God revealed himself and his plan to Jacob in a dream.
God initiated such movement towards Jacob. God fulfills His promise. That is why, God assured Jacob. God promises him, “I will be with you and will keep you wherever you will go.” Consequently, this made Jacob to realize that, “The Lord is in this place and I did not know it.” Jacob realized God’s presence and now it animated and empowered him to go where God would lead him.
This tells us how God makes himself ever present in our life. Trials and struggles could be reasons for our doubts, disappointments and struggles, yet, even in those situations, God makes himself present. And God is there even when we are not aware of it. God has promised, “I will be with you and will keep wherever you are.”
Such attitude of relating from God is what we could also find in the Gospel. The grief and sorrow of that Synagogue official and the pain and sadness of that woman with hemorrhages, were situations where God made himself present in a very surprising way. God’s presence was revealed in Jesus as he willingly journeyed with the official towards the place of his sorrow and grief, towards her dead daughter. Jesus got up and followed the man. And it was in that experience that surely the Synagogue official felt closer to God.
Moreover, the woman with hemorrhages was surprised at the power of God. Certainly, Jesus had somehow allowed the woman to touch him. And when Jesus saw her, Jesus also treated her warmly and affirmed her faith.
Through Jesus’ way of relating and approaching with these people, he brought life and healing, joy and assurance. This tells us now of the welcoming and generous attitude of Jesus towards those who ask for help, who seek for healing and peace, and of those of friendship.
This is the invitation for us today. First, God reminds us that He is ever present. God is faithful to His promise. God is absolutely with us. And so, like Jacob, like the synagogue official and the woman with hemorrhages, let us allow God to surprise us with His presence. But let us not forget, in this surprise of God’s presence, faith is fundamental as the very ground of our encounter with God.
And so as we deepen our faith that finds strength in our community, we may find healing and peace, life and joy in God’s presence revealed in our own human experiences of pain, trials and struggles.
Second, God never condemned Jacob for what he did. Jesus also was so generous to accommodate this seemingly hopeless father of a dead daughter and be disturbed on the way by this sick woman. We may also learn to become more accommodating, welcoming and warm, less judgmental and less condemning of people around us, no matter who they are. When we learn this, we shall find that our presence and the gift of our friendship will bring healing and peace, life and joy to others. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR