Monday, July 08, 2013

Bless Me to Labor

Bless Me to Labor

Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

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.”
(Genesis 32:25-27)

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.”
(Matthew 9:36-38)


May God bless you with a restless discomfort
about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships,
so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression,
and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for
justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer
from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may
reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that
you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able,
with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator,
Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Saviour,
and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you
and remain with you, this day and forevermore.  AMEN.
(Sr. Ruth Fox, OSB 1985)


Footnotes to the passage about Jacob’s wrestling match speak of ancient folkloric elements reworked to illustrate Jacob’s need to strive with God to receive his blessing.  The passage also reminds us that humans have always struggled with overpowering obstacles and tragedies.  In the wrestling, Jacob was permanently disabled.  Life can do that to us and it becomes part of who we are and what we make of life.  Jacob received a blessing; we can many times find meaning or blessings even out of tragedy.

An elderly woman I know recently cried and prayed “Lord, Lord, I can’t go through this again” after the third death of one of her five children.  Through her tears she also prayed “Lord I know that you stand with me and I stand with you.”  A young Coptic Christian woman whom I met several years ago hoped only to find a job – not find an exciting or fulfilling job – as she graduated from college.  I think of her today wondering if she found that job in post-revolutionary Cairo.  This young woman was a faithful and active member in her church where she had a community as well as hope and solace in an extremely precarious existence.  Jesus’ heart is, I know, moved with pity for each of them. 


The witness of the two women moved me.  They are laborers for God’s harvest as they face pain and uncertainty through reliance on Jesus.  Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II were laborers for God’s harvest in very different ways.  In what ways am I a laborer for the harvest in our troubled and abandoned days?

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