Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us heard about the story of how Jacob struggled with God on his journey back towards the land of Canaan, after he had ended his exile in the land of his ancestors in Mesopotamia. And as he approached the land of Canaan, he heard how his brother Esau came towards him with many men and other people, and he was scared. That was why he sent his family and his servants in a separate group, fearing that his brother Esau was going to seek retribution against him.
What we heard in today’s story from the Book of Genesis is a continuation of what we have heard in the past few days on the story of Jacob and his family, the descendants of Abraham, the faithful servant of God. Jacob tricked Esau his elder brother, into surrendering his inheritance and seized his blessings from him. And thus, he was driven into a self-imposed exile, fleeing from the wrath of Esau for a while. God was with Jacob, and He guided him along the way.
But Jacob doubted, and in his fear, he fell into his own human frailties. That was when God came unto him, and struggled with him. Through that struggle, God reminded Jacob that with Him, nothing can go wrong, and with Him as his source of strength, he would have no need to fear. He is the source of all our hope and our strength. And still, we often doubted Him and did not believe Him.
This was shown in the Gospel passage which we heard today. The Gospel spoke of how Jesus our Lord was slandered by the Pharisees who accused Him of wrongdoing, spreading lies and untruths, charging that He cast out demons by the power of the prince of demons. And yet, despite all of these charges and lies they had made about Jesus, all of them did not deter Him from continuing His work and ministry among the people, caring for the sick and healing them, and bringing joy to God’s people.
The Pharisees did all that they had done because they were jealous of the Lord’s popularity and ability to teach with true authority. They refused to believe in Him because they were too confident and proud to acknowledge that their ways and thoughts had been mistaken, and that the Lord Jesus was right and delivering the truth to them. They have enjoyed many privileges due to their position in the society, and they saw Jesus as a threat to all that they had enjoyed thus while.
Thus they hardened their hearts, and trusted in their own human intellect and strength, refusing to listen to the word of God speaking to them, through what they have heard and witnessed. Even though they had seen all the miracles that Jesus had done in their midst, they still did not believe and continued to resist Him and working against Him and His disciples.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what can happen to us all as well. When we are in the moments of difficulty, it is often that we fear, just as Jacob had had fear in his heart and mind. And when we fear, because our faith and commitment to the Lord is not strong, we end up turning to alternative sources of comfort, that is putting our trust instead in our own human abilities and strengths, preferring to trust our own plans, desires and thoughts instead of discerning what it is that God wants from us.
Yet, we have to realise that God is always with us, no matter how difficult the situation can be. He is always ever faithful and He will not abandon us, for He is always guiding us through various means, even when we do not realise it. We need to learn to put our trust in God, no matter what happens. We should not be quick to abandon the Lord when we are so concerned about ourselves and our own safety, for if it is He Who created us, it is also therefore He Who reigns over us and no lasting harm will come to us.
Perhaps all of us should heed the example of the holy and renowned saint, whose feast day we celebrate on this day. St. Benedict the Abbot, also known as St. Benedict of Nursia is also known better as the founder of the Benedictine Order, one of the largest religious congregations in the world today, and also as the one who came up with the strict regulations of the Rule of St. Benedict, a standard by which many of the religious brothers and sisters lived their lives.
St. Benedict of Nursia was renowned for his deep devotion and piety to the Lord, by his many good works among the people of God, calling them to serve the Lord and to devote themselves with sincere dedication and commitment. St. Benedict of Nursia through his Rule of St. Benedict encouraged all, especially those who have chosen to dedicate themselves in a religious life, on how to live their lives in accordance with the will of God.
St. Benedict of Nursia emphasised before anything else, the importance of obedience and humility in one’s actions, and indeed it is these two virtues which are often lacking among us mankind these days. He emphasised the importance of doing good works and prayer in tandem with each other, in one of his golden rules, Ora et Labora, prayer and work hand in hand, as what all the faithful people of God should do.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Benedict of Nursia and today’s Scripture readings reminded us that all of us as Christians are called to be faithful to the Lord, to put our trust in the Lord our God. And we can do this by deepening our relationship with Him, through constant prayer and communication with God, remembering Him in everything we do, in every moment we have in life and indeed, in every breath that we take.
Let us all commit ourselves anew to the Lord, and let us seek to serve the Lord with ever greater zeal and love. May the Lord bless us with an ever greater faith and devotion, so that we will draw ever closer to Him and thus be worthy to receive His everlasting grace and love. St. Benedict of Nursia, pray for us all. Amen.