Jacob wrestles with a mysterious man until dawn and during the bout he is injured. As dawn breaks, the man renames Jacob Israel, which means ‘God fights’.
This is a most strange encounter but it conjures up the constant struggle man has with God. Jacob recognises that the person with whom he has been wrestling is in fact God himself. He does not see his face for Jacob knows that no man can see God’s face and live. Nor does he know his name. But he asks for his blessing and this he receives. This is a blessing that sets him off on a new direction, a new mission, hence the change of name which we may be familiar with today. At Confirmation, we are charged with a new mission and given a new name. Benedictine monks will often take a new name when they are brought into their community.
Continuing with Jacob, he meets with his brother Esau and there is a new relationship formed between them. Gone is the bitterness of the past, replaced with forgiveness, rejoicing and great hope for the future.
Jacob continues to thrive as a result of receiving God’s blessing and protection. In the New Testament, Jesus says that his burden is light and his yoke is easy. A yoke of course, denotes hard work, but if more than one person bears the weight, Jacob with God for example, the yoke becomes easier.
Jesus bears the yoke of all our sins, past, present and future on his shoulders when he is crucified on Mount Calvary. Therefore we are encouraged to take our cross for Him to help spread the Good News in the knowledge and understanding that Jesus is there with us every step of the way, so our burden should be easy.
Scripture: Genesis 32:13-34:31; Matthew 11:7-30; Psalm 14:1-7; Proverbs 3:19-20