Scripture: lectionary 382. Genesis 27:1-5, 15-19. Psalm 135:1-2, 3-4,5-6. Matthew 9:14-17:
Isaac gets only this narrative in our liturgical readings. It is just before his death. The Jacob cycle follows as we continue to read and listen to Genesis in the liturgy of the word. The excerpt shows the deception of Rebecca and we will soon see or remember that Jacob has this trait of his mother. He is often referred to as a “trickster.” He suffers because of this and will spend many years of labor because of this lack of wholesomeness in his character. The Bible reflects our human traits so well and we do well to learn from the mistakes some of our biblical heroes have done.
Rebecca the mother of Jacob and Esau always prefers Jacob over her more hairy and muscular son Esau. She is concerned that he get his father’s last and most important blessing that rewards the one receiving it. So she sets up a great plot to make this possible; Jacob is only too willing to comply in this trickery. She conceals Jacob’s hands with the skins of animals and puts hair on his chest from a sheep. Then she makes sure that he is dressed in his brother’s clothes which are probably drenched in the smells of the field (you make your choice!). Jacob has to lie three times before he receives the blessing but he and his mom succeed in the attempt and he receives the blessing. The only good thing about this is that Esau comes back with another prepared meal that may even be tastier than the one Isaac received from Jacob through his mother’s hands!
We may feel more sympathetic for the athlete in the family who did his own hunting, but there must be something deeper in the narrative that led the author of Genesis to remember or to create this event. It has a part to play in the salvation history which often is a story written with the crooked lines of human behaviors and sins.
We may ask ourselves are we always honest, sincere, and truthful in our behavior? Do we or I resort to “little white lies” or conceal our misdemeanors. I am sometimes astounded at what some people say about stealing or cheating. “It is only bad if you get caught!” Do we allow authority figures to influence our own sense of what is right? Do we create some situations that make an outcome best for ourselves at the expense of another? Are we clear and honest in our relationships? Do we resort to “trickeries” in order to get our way?
Moving from the first reading to the Gospel selection Jesus compares fasting to the example of wineskings used with old good wine and those with the fermenting new wine. You have to put the good wine that is seasoned in older wineskins and the new wine in fresh new wineskins to prevent them from bursting. Fasting is done at the appropriate time and without fanfare. We need to enter into right decisions about some religious practices and when they are appropriate or not. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.