Monday, July 06, 2015

Protect Me on This Journey

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.” Genesis 28:20-22A

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.  Matthew 9:20-22

Father, remain with me, to protect me on this journey I am making today.  Brother Jesus, give me enough to support my daily needs.  Holy Spirit, in thanksgiving, guide me back to the House of the Lord and I shall renew my sacramental vows so that the Lord may count on me and I will always count on the Lord. 

Jacob was not having a very good time amongst his own family.  His brother schemed against him and took his blessing and place of honor in his father’s house. Jacob was forced to go into exile in a foreign land. On the way, he stopped off to get a night’s sleep before continuing on…that is when he experienced his dream-vision of the stairway to heaven.

Jesus also was not having a very good time amongst his own people. Despite his skilled preaching, curing the sick, and making the lame walk, the Jews showed little faith. However, in the anonymous two people he encountered in today’s gospel, the Roman official and the women hemorrhaging, he encountered faith and rewarded it justly.

After so many scripture stories in recent weeks where naming was a significant aspect of revealing the meaning behind the events, naming once again is important – or indeed the lack of names.  The official, his daughter and the woman are not named.  However, what sets them apart from all the people in Nazareth whom Jesus knows is the faith upon which they act. 

In the first reading, we eventually learn that the places are named something significant.  However, at first, Jacob came upon a certain unnamed place.  He figured that it would be as good a place as any to set up camp overnight.  However, the certain place turned out to be Bethel, which was a sacred site as far back as the time of Abraham. (“From there [Abram] moved on to the hill country east of Bethel, pitching his tent with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. He built an altar there to the LORD and invoked the LORD by name.” Genesis 12:8)

It just so happens that “Bethel” means house of God. Thus, Jacob did not choose some random place.  His feet were led by the Holy Spirit to holy ground from which his dream vision emerged. The notes in the New American Bible explain: “Jacob’s unawareness of the holiness of the place underscores the graciousness of the gift.”

The anonymity of the official, the daughter and the woman also underscore the graciousness of the gift of healing that Jesus presented to them based upon their faith.

What sets you apart?

Recently, on a trip out of town, we got a ride to a local Catholic church on Sunday morning.  The driver commented that she was raised in Catholic schools (implying that she did not go to church now).  However, she was wise enough to comment about how many people came to her city on a vacation but did not go to church on Sunday – noting that Satan never takes a holiday.

Where will you go to Church while travelling?  What certain place is there where you can rest your weary head beside peaceful waters? 

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