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Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Gen. 32:23-33 & Mt. 9:32-38

To prevent his son Jacob from marrying a Canaanite woman, Isaac sent him off to Mesopotamia to find a wife. Today's reading omits his adventures there and takes up the narrative with him on his way home. The strange incident of his wrestling with a man, who eventually is shown to represent God, accounts for the origin of the new name given to Jacob by God - Israel which seems to mean ‘struggle with God' and is the name of the people descended from him. The change indicates that he owed his position as father of the lsraelites to God alone.

It can be said that this name sums up much of the relationship between God and His people. It was a struggle for God to keep His people close to Himself as they twisted and turned to get away to follow false gods. Despite the struggle God constantly blessed His people as He blessed Jacob. The meaning of the name applies to us, too, for we are in constant struggle: God is always calling us to Himself for an embrace of love, but His invitation is free, not one of force, while there are factors pulling us in the opposite direction. We are drawn by our own selfishness, by the allure of false gods of money and pleasure, by the hollow value proposed as the means to the good life. God sometimes seems distant while we are tempted to embrace temporary attractions. Life is a struggle and this struggle produces tension in our lives.

How stupid we are to create tension between ourselves and God's love! If only we would let go of anything that draws us away from God. It is only when we learn to let go, that the struggle ends and we find peace in the loving embrace of God.

Jesus in the Gospel says, “The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to His harvest.”

God will never forsake His Church. There will always be priests to continue His work. There has been a great dearth of vocations in the last 30 years. Is there anything we can do about this? Yes!

Firstly, we priests and religious have to be so committed that we are an inspiration to young people, that they will desire to follow in our footsteps. One of my ambitions in life is that at least two young men will look at me and say, 'I would like to be a priest like him.'

Secondly, we must all pray for vocations daily begging the Lord to send labourers into His harvest. Praying for vocations is a command of Jesus. And when we ask for vocations remind the Lord of His words, “Ask and you will receive” not taking no for an answer. Is the falling off in vocations because we have not prayed enough for them?

Thirdly, without any shadow of doubt most vocations come from good Catholic homes. Is the falling off in vocations because our homes are not as Catholic as they should be? It was a great day when Pope St. Pius X was ordained a bishop. Thrilled that his frail old mother was still alive to experience such a happy event, she was the first person to come to the altar rails to receive his episcopal blessing and kiss his ring. All eyes in the cathedral were fixed on them. As she knelt in front of her son, he said, “Mamma, l bet you never thought that one day your little Beppi would be a bishop in God's Church.” Little did he realise that very soon he would be the Bishop of Rome, the Pope Himself. “Come, Mamma, you will be the first one to kiss my ring,” His mother took his hand in hers and looking up at him said, “Do you know Beppi, you would never be wearing the ring on that finger if it wasn't for the ring or my finger?” She was a very wise mother. Not only had she given him life, but the example of a good Catholic home.

Yes, it is true, it is God who calls and gives the grace of a vocation, but so often God chooses His future priests, and religious brothers and sisters, from the seed ground of good Catholic homes.

Heavenly Father, send us good and holy priests, and religious brothers and sisters, to carry out the work of Your Son.

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