Thursday, December 03, 2009

Advent 5 : The Wrestlers

More than fourteen years after meeting Jacob in his dream, God comes to him again in the night. Though God has blessed him, Jacob is a broken man – caught between the uncle he has tricked, in order to amass wealth, and the brother he tricked out of his birthright so many years earlier. Here is a man caught between a rock and a hard place.

And God comes to Jacob again and repeats his offer: “If you give me your life, I will give you my life.”

They wrestle, physically and metaphorically, all night [note 1]. God, laying aside his supernatural might to wrestle with a man; and that man holding on for dear life and refusing to let go. Jacob gets to see God face-to-face, and live. And finally, as the dawn breaks, the covenant is renewed.

Jacob gets a new name (a divine name): Israel. No longer ‘the deceiver’ but now ‘he struggles with God and man, and overcomes.’

And God? Jacob asks, “Tell me your name!” But God replies, “Why do you ask my name?” You already know: I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and now – at last – of Jacob. The God of Israel. I am the God who exchanges identity with my people. I am the Great Father. I am the Only and Beloved Son, who will be sacrificed. I am the one who struggles with God and man, and has overcome: the one who brings God and man together in one, and overcomes the gulf between them...

note 1: read Genesis 32.

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