“Jesus’ heart was moved with compassion for them
because they were troubled...”
Life has its ‘ups’ and downs’. The ‘ups’
or good times are always welcome. However, when the ‘downs’
appear, we may become defensive, obstinate, angry, frustrated, fearful,
resistant, etc. ‘How or why can ‘this’ (whatever
is disrupting our day, week or life) be happening to me?’
How do I deal with struggle in my life? At times, facing a deadline
or an obstacle in my work, I ‘dig in, grit my teeth, and plow
on ahead,’ determined to not allow the presenting problem
to get the better of me. Other times when dealing with an irritating
situation I may attempt to approach with a positive attitude, hoping
that some of the ‘rough’ edges of the situation might
dissipate. On the other hand, if something seems impossible ( 9-11)
or insurmountable (personal crisis), I then realize that I need
help. I suppose it’s such times that I struggle with the ‘why’
of the situation, maybe even leaning to denial initially. In the
face of being overwhelmed I turn to the God-spirit within, ask for
guidance and try to patiently discern what, if anything I can do
to alleviate the situation. At such times, I’m probably most
open to also enlisting anyone who might assist me - friends, family,
Today’s readings address struggle...
In Genesis, Jacob wrestles a stranger through the night and suffers
a hip injury. In the morning the man begs Jacob to allow him to
leave. However, Jacob insists that the man bless him before he can
go; however the man will not honor Jacob’s request that he
reveal his name to Jacob. Jacob believes that he has seen God in
Initially I questioned Jacob’s good sense in asking the stranger
for a blessing after the injuring struggle. What a strange request!
And, how could such an event lead Jacob to see God in the struggle?
Synonyms for ‘blessing’ are: approval; consent; go ahead.
Upon further reflection, Jacob’s request for a blessing with
the wrestling stranger could be Jacob’s way of making peace
with the struggle so that Jacob could ‘go-ahead.’ Perhaps
if I attempted to embrace and accept the struggles in my life rather
than deny or resist their existence, I might more readily make peace
with them in order to address what needs to done.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals the mute man, as well as curing
people’s disease and illnesses. And, “…his
heart was moved with compassion for them because they were troubled
and abandoned.” Jesus truly cared in a very human way
and was not solely caught up in the ‘doing’ of his ministry
call of teaching, proclaiming the reign of God and healing people.
Jesus was ‘being’ to and with the people he encountered
on his journey.
I know that I don’t have to experience life’s struggles
alone. Not only can friends, family or professionals assist and
‘be’ with me. God deeply and compassionately (with feeling)
cares and will enter into life’s struggles with me…if
only I remember to open myself to the God-spirit within and around
My prayer is that I/we can remember that we do have a loving, caring
God who is ready to be invited into our everyday lives of ‘ups’
and especially the ‘downs,’ and that we, like Jacob,
will then“…see God face to face.”