By Fr Antony Christy, SDB –
Jacob enters salvation history as the son of Isaac and Rebecca. Having a twin brother in the person of Esau, Jacob was loved more by Rebecca, his mother. Isaac would have naturally and personally preferred Esau as his heir and rightful descendant, but God seemed to have had it otherwise, to Jacob’s great fortune. Jacob crafted his way to prominence – he bought up his elder twin’s heirship for a bowl of lentil stew (Gen 25:30-35), he usurped his brother’s rightful blessing with the help of his mother’s contriving (Gen 27).
Though Jacob seems to be a cheat, and looks like he paid for it when he had to work double to get the girl he loved, it was all part of God’s design. Jacob fell in love with Rachel, a girl he was entitled to marry by the ties of blood. When he approached her father and requested Rachel’s hand in marriage, the father said he should work in his farm for seven years as the bride’s price. Jacob did not mind that – seven years was nothing before the love that he had for Rachel.
At the end of the seventh year, the father who was worried that his elder daughter, Leah, was still unmarried while Rachel already found a suitor, deceived Jacob and got him married to Leah! Jacob felt cheated; he felt paid in his own coin. When he complains about it, the father promises him the second daughter too in marriage but not before another seven years of service at the farm – Jacob did not mind waiting for an additional seven years for the love of his life.(Gen 29)
This is how God willed that Rachel and Leah and their respective servant maids share their space within the design of God – bearing the 12 children who would be the 12 tribes of Israel. Yes, Jacob becomes Israel (Gen 32:28). Jacob becomes God’s chosen one, the one from whom entire people of God will take their name, from whom the total twelve tribes will originate. There are some lessons to learn from Jacob… look at the way he was blessed by the Lord in spite of his crooked ways – it reminds us of the manifold blessings we receive though we do not deserve it.
Jacob loved, he truly loved and was ready to pay any cost for it. Jacob had his own agenda but when it came to obeying his father or obeying the Lord, he was absolutely faithful. Israel – one who strives with God – there is call here to be strong in spirit to be able to accept and submit to the will of God.
A challenge for you:
-Do you count your blessings from the Lord?
– Are you able to see the hand of God guiding you through the ups and downs of your life?
YOU CAT: CLARIFYING ‘FAITH’ (Questions 1-24)
The first of the four parts of the You Cat, is named “WE BELIEVE” and it deals with what we believe, the tenets, the truths and the understanding of basic faith proposition we as Christians base our lives on.
One of the questions answered here: how can we say what belongs to the true faith? (Q.no.12), for an instance, deals with clarifying what faith is and what is unique about the faith of Catholic Christians. It clearly presents the importance of the Scriptures and the equal importance of Tradition – the lived experience of the faith community. Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church, based on the surety that the faithful as a whole cannot err, owing to the Spirit that Jesus has gifted us with.
Scriptures are firmly, faithfully and without error, true and they are inspired by the Spirit! Faith is not human endeavour, it is a response to God’s revelation: God reveals and we as humans respond, and thus faith is born! Faith is not merely a set of truths that we say ‘yes’ to, but an experience we base our lives on. Faith and Science are not contradictory, if only we are open minded to understand all realities in their depths, instead of being satisfied with the peripheral.
Faith is my personal response to a self-revealing God. How do you look at your faith today!
KNOW YOUR CHURCH:
What is the Church?
Just answer this question to yourself sincerely: when they announce in the Church, “let us pray for the Church”, what is that picture that comes to your mind? Praying for the Holy Father, the Bishops, the Priests and Religious…isn’t it? This is one common myth we need to bust. What or who is the Church?
Very often when we criticise in terms like: why is the Church not doing this, or why is the Church becoming insensitive, we are unconnsciously look at the Church as a structure by itself and we belong to it. We forget the fact that, we ARE the Church and we do merely belong to the Church. This is what the Vatican Council II has affirmed in no indefinite terms: the Church is the People of God, “a people made one with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”(Lumen Gentium, #4). Within this unity there are roles defined and ministries allotted… in carrying them out with total freedom, dedication and faithfulness, we become full fledged members.
The Church, is not the building out there in the corner of your street, it is not a structure or an organised hierarchy, it is you and I, it is People of God, who are built into a dwelling of God and who are organised as an assembly of faithful of that One Lord!
DO CAT: GOD’S MASTER PLAN – “LOVE” (Questions 1-21)
God is love, and those who do not love do not know God (1 Jn 4:8). God created the world out of God’s overflowing love and would like us to love God as God loves us.
God wants to gather us into the great family of God’s Church. We are loved into existence, we are called to reciprocate that love and we are challenged to love our neighbours with the same love! Love is that which is at the very essence of humanity as willed by God and it is a task given to every human person, more so to a Christian, as we have experienced the unconditional and boundless love that God has for us. It is only in and through Love that one can prove to oneself and to the world that he or she belongs to God or not in truth.
Love is to be first experience from God, then cherished as a child of God, and then shared with everyone around as a commitment of a person of God. Beloved young friends, refrain from looking at ‘love’ merely as a romantic idea, or a sentimental attachment, or worse a longing for possession! It is not. “Love” is neither a mere feeling, nor is it a simple sentiment, it is a commitment, a call, a challenge.
How do you understand Love?
Fr Antony Christy is a Salesian Priest from 2005, who has a Masters in Philosophy (specialisation in Religion) and a Masters in Theology (Specialisation in Catechetics). He is currently pursuing his doctoral research in Theology at Salesian Pontifical University, Rome. Walking with the Young towards a World of Peace and Dialogue is the passion that fires him on.