July 9, 2013


Readings at Mass: Tuesday of 14th Week of Ordinary Time

Genesis 32:22-33
Psalm 17:1b,2-3,6-7ab, 8b, 15

In the first reading at today's Mass we read of Jacob's famous wresting match with God. Today's story immediately follows Jacob's deceiving his own father Isaac, thus stealing the coveted blessing from his brother Esau. Alienated from his brother, Jacob leaves home in search of a wife. After settling in for the evening, he is visited by God through an Angel. The two of them wrestle throughout the night, and at daybreak we read: "'What is your name?' the [Angel] asked. He answered, 'Jacob.' Then the [Angel] said, 'You shall no longer be named Jacob, but Israel, because you have wrestled with God'".

Jacob's name is changed to Israel, a name which literally means "he who struggles with God." Here, in Genesis 32, we find the naming of God's chosen people, for Jacob (Israel) will be the immediate ancestor of the famous twelve tribes of Israel. These are God's chosen people, hand-picked by the Lord to reveal Himself to the world. God chose them, God named them. He hand-picked a people who "struggle with God."

Many of us struggle with God. Some of us struggle with God personally. Others struggle with our Catholic Faith. Still more, simply struggle with life. Jacob struggled too. However, his struggle, like so many of our's, was not an intellectual one in essence. In reality, Jacob struggled with Jacob. Jacob believed the lie that Jacob was the most important person in the world. Life revolved around Jacob. His childhood was a wreck. Thus, there is equal deceit and sin in his own family as he fathers. The story of Jacob's life is Jacob's struggle to understand that God is God and Jacob is not.

Struggle is a part of life, and ... believe it or not ... an essential part of our spiritual lives. We can turn in on ourselves and try to control our expectations, trajectory of life, and God Himself or we can turn toward God and let the Lumen Fidei ("light of Faith") guide us in the struggle. 

Wisdom reveals two important insights about struggle. First, listen in it, listen to it. What are your deepest desires in the struggle? Why are you struggling? Is God stretching you or is the struggle actually revealing something to you about you ... or God ... or life? Secondly, what do you do when you struggle with God ? Do you turn in and dismiss the "rub" or challenge of struggle? Do you turn in and try to figure it out on your own? Do you turn in and become self-sufficient? Or, do you turn toward God actually believing God longs to help you in the struggle?

Here's the good news. Jacob's life was forever changed after the wresting match. Because he entered into the struggle God changed his life. Spend some time today with the Lord ... even if you have to wrestle with Him like Jacob did. Talk with Him about your struggles.

© Fr. Mark Toups, 2013



Today, the 169 seminarians in the Seminarians Summer Program continue with day two of their new course on the Liturgy. Today they will receive a comprehensive, Catholic vision of of Liturgy.

The 22 priests and seminarians here for the Spiritual Exercises are on day 11 of the 30-day retreat.


"We can try to limit suffering, to fight against it, but we cannot eliminate it. It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater. It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love."
― Spe Salvi, no. 37