Weekday Reflection: Monday of the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B)
(Gn 28:10-22 / Mt 9:18-26)
I find it coincidental--or better yet providential--that as I decide to revive this old blog, I end up starting with a reading, the one from Genesis 28-10-22, that started all things about Bethel: the story of Jacob, journeying and deciding to sleep in a shrine, and making use of a stone for a pillow, started to dream of a stairway connecting heaven and earth, and angels climbing up and going down on it. Upon waking, he decided to call the place Bethel, the abode of God, to capture his own experience of finding God in unexpected places,
“Truly, the LORD is in this spot, although I did not know it!”
The story of Jacob's dream is the first reading of Monday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time. It's the reading for today. Some say it's just a dream, like any other dream. However, for the Israelites, God speaks to his people in many ways, including dreams. Jacob, in his journey from Beer-sheba towards Haran, experienced that the dream wasn't just ordinary. It was a divine encounter reminding him that as he journeys through the many stages of his life, God will always be with him, most especially in those moments he least expects.
Jacob's Dream by Spanish painter Jusepe de Ribera, art completed in 1639.
Life is a journey. Life is like that ladder connecting heaven and earth, and through all the ups and downs in this stairway, God's messengers will also be there, helping us, guiding us, inspiring us to trust in his providence. The responsorial psalm for today cannot but capture this message:
In you, my God, I place my trust.
Life as a journey takes on many forms. Some travel fast, while others slow. Some travel light, while others bring with them all that they need and want. Some travel adventurously, taking all possible detours to explore the countryside. Some even take risks of being lost in order to genuinely find their true selves. While some journey in togetherness, others prefer solitude, in order to live deeply and to "suck out all the marrow of life" in the famous words of Henry David Thoreau.
But through all these, there is a dreaded form that we seek to avoid--to walk aimlessly.
To walk aimlessly is to walk without a purpose, without a destination. It is the sort of walking that undermines itself. It is simply the movement of our feet, in total absence of a goal that brings us from one point to another.
In the gospel reading of today, there are many journeys. There is the official journeying to meet Jesus in order to desperately beg him to revive his daughter who just died. There is the woman suffering from hemorrhages for 12 years walking up to Jesus believing that if only she could touch the tassel of his cloak, she shall be healed. There are the disciples of Jesus who follow him wherever he goes. And of course, there is Jesus himself, walking, traveling, journeying among towns and villages preaching, healing, driving out demons, bringing the Good News to all people he encounters along the way.
In all these walking, journeying, traveling, there is always a spot where the Divine is encountered. In the wise words heard in preaching, in the mighty deeds of healing, and let us not forget, in the humble moments of realization that God is with us, and will help us, and to whom we really put our trust.
Such events in life's journeys are singular moments that we need to treasure. These Divine encounters are the treasures that make our life rich and meaningful. We are born into a world and gifted a name. But our name is empty. It is the significant moments of life, the great ups and downs, that fill this empty name and make it meaningful--that is, make our life full of meaning.
We hold on to this meaning. We cling to this meaning. This defines our life. This defines our name. And it is this meaning that we share to others, for them to find their own meaning.
And so, we must continue telling stories.... our own stories that make our life meaningful.