> Genesis 28:10-22a
> Psalm 91:1-2,3-4,14-15ab
In the first reading at today's daily Mass we begin reading about Jacob, the grandson of Abraham and the son of Isaac. Jacob is an interesting character. A man of cunning and deceit during his early years, Jacob will eventually become one of the great figures of the Old Testament and the immediate ancestor of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jacob struggled with envy and ambition throughout much of his early life. Jacob fought with his twin brother Esau in the womb, swindled him of his right as the firstborn and even deceived his own father in order to receive Isaac's coveted blessing. However, Jacob's life forever changed after his famous wresting match with God (Genesis 32:23). In fact, it is there that God changes Jacob's name to Israel, which literally means "He who struggles with God." Jacob matures and lives a long life filled with both heartache and eventual happiness. In a nutshell, Jacob is jealous of his brother and will do whatever he can to outdo him. However, this pattern not only inflicts pain upon his loved ones, it also wreaks havoc within his own heart. Eventually Jacob comes to see that self-reliance can only take you so far, you need God. You can not provide for yourself everything that your soul longs for. This "world" as we know it, even with all of its advances, can not answer every question, nor can it provide for every longing.
Last Friday Pope Francis released his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei which is Latin for "Light of Faith". In Lumen Fidei, no. 1 we read: "Yet though the sun was born anew each morning, it was clearly incapable of casting its light on all of human existence. ... Christians invoked Jesus as the true sun 'whose rays bestow life'. ... Those who believe, see; they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets."
The natural world is "incapable of casting its light on all of human existence" because there is an aspect of the human existence which is not natural, but supernatural. In other words, I have a soul. You have a soul. Jacob has a soul. As Jacob pursued life on his own terms he quickly realized that there is more to life than what I can provide for myself or what the world can provide. My supernatural soul needs the presence of a supernatural God.
So, why do we need Faith? Faith enables me to relate to God which the Faith teaches me about. And, relating to God is important, for without God I am merely an animal doomed to dust after death. Faith propels me into a relationship with God whom I believe in, surrender to, and receive from. Faith casts light on "all of human existence" because it not only answers the questions about the natural world, but it also provides the only true wisdom about the supernatural world.
Jacob's life is one of a man searching ... just like me and you. If we search for our ultimate meaning from this world we will inevitably be trapped in the exhaustion of fulfilling our own deepest desires. However, if we acknowledge the fact that we have a soul then we are forced to ask deeper questions that eventually propel us into a relationship with Him who made our soul. Our Faith "casts its light" and thus shows us the way to our Creator.
How are you doing with your Faith in God? How are you doing with your Catholic Faith? Where do you struggle with Faith? And, more importantly, where do you go with your struggles? As we begin to peer deeply into our souls and learn more about Faith and its Light, take some time today and ask yourself who's guiding your life: you or God?
© Fr. Mark Toups, 2013
TODAY AT IPF
Today, the 169 seminarians in the Seminarians Summer Program begin a new course on the Liturgy. Today they will learn more about how to prepare for spiritual consolation and spiritual desolation so they are more prepared for the experience.
The 22 priests and seminarians here for the Spiritual Exercises are on day 10 of the 30-day retreat.
TODAY'S QUOTE FROM POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI
"Faith is not merely a cultural heritage, but the constant working of the grace of God who calls and our human freedom, which can respond or not to his call."
― Homily, Fifth World Meeting of Families, July 9, 2006
FR. ROBERT BARRON: "WHAT IS FAITH?"