Hairy and Grabber lived during a time when the firstborn son received an extra portion of the inheritance and also a special blessing. On one occasion Grabber cooked up some red beans and Hairy came in famished from a hunting trip. He asked for a mess of those beans and Grabber told him he could have some if he sold him his inheritance. Hairy thought he would die if he didn’t get some of those beans so he sold it. It was such a dumb move on his part that his friends gave him the nickname of Edom or Red (after those red beans).
In today’s text, Grabber manages to steal Red’s special blessing. While Red was hunting so that he could make his father’s favorite dish, mom and Grabber conspired to literally pull the wool over the eyes of a blind father. Grabber made his skin feel hairy, put on some of Red’s gamey-smelling clothes, cooked up a tasty dish, and then pretended to be Red. Although dad hesitated because Grabber’s voice didn’t sound like Red’s, he eventually gave him the blessing. Grabber had Red’s inheritance. Now he had his blessing.
It certainly doesn’t seem fair that Grabber would get away with this but he does, although the blessing certainly included a lot of suffering. He had to flee a vengeful brother. He got married and ended up with a father-in-law who was a bigger grabber than he was. He had to eventually face Red. Yet, God works in the life of Grabber. Red was the firstborn but he seemed to have no concern for spiritual matters. On the other hand, Grabber was a sneak and a cheat but God knew that he had within him what it took to be the leader of his people. The culture of the time said that Red was the chosen one. But God chose Grabber instead.
The responsorial psalm is an admonition to praise the Lord for his goodness and greatness. God is to be praised because he does what he wills. “For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel for his own possession.” The world said that Red is chosen. The Lord said, “No, I choose Grabber.” God couldn’t do much with Red but Grabber was a man of promise. Eventually he is such a changed man that he can no longer be called Grabber. God gave him a new name, Israel, the one who has striven with God and humans and prevailed.
In the Gospel the followers of John the Baptist ask Jesus why his disciples do not fast. Jesus responds, “I am the bridegroom, we’re having a wedding here, so mourning is not appropriate. They can fast and mourn after I leave.” Fasting or mourning during a wedding is like putting old wine into new wineskins. It’s a recipe for disaster. John’s disciples were holy followers of God but they did not recognize who Jesus was. Thus, they did not know the appropriate way to celebrate his presence among them.
Humans look at Esau, Jacob, or Jesus and make a judgment based on appearances. God, on the other hand, looks into a person’s soul and does what he wills.
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