We get a long narrative which follows an un-named servant's quest to find Isaac a wife from Abraham's homeland There is a great deal of trust in God and his master by this servant, and it pays off. The episode seems very strange to modern sensibilities, but taking into account the culture at the time, it is not particularly remarkable, though it does underscore Rebekah's goodness and hospitality, and therefore suitability as a mate for Isaac, from whom we know Abraham's great nation must come forth. Curiously enough, Rebekah turns out to be Abraham's niece, Isaac's cousin.
This is a hard prayer. How many of us can say that there is no wickedness in us, and that our feet have not slipped from the path of righteousness? The call for "steadfast love" takes me back to the Genesis reading for today, where the good servant says "Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master."
What is remarkable about this Psalm, however, is the way that it turns at the end. After calling out for deliverance from the wicked "whose portion in life is of the world," it appears that David prays for his enemies, saying "May their belly be filled with what thou hast stored up for them; may their children have more than enough; may they leave something over to their babes."
The most beautiful part, is the end, though. "When I awake, I shall be satisfied with beholding thy form." This is the wish of all of us, the deepest desire that we have...to behold God, and be satisfied in that vision.
Most of this series of verses seems pretty self explanatory. He points out that those who think that he is from the prince of demons naturally malign him. Don't fear those who can kill the body...we are worth much more than many sparrows, every hair on our heads is counted, etc. Our relationship with God is more important that our familial relationships, or our societal relationships, or any aspect of our earthly lives.
These words, in particular, speak volumes: "...and he who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it."
How often do we shrink away from adversity, from pain, from suffering, from putting ourselves out for others? How often do we leave that cross right where we found it, rather than picking it up and carrying it? And how beautiful would it be if we held it aloft, as much as it can hurt or inconvenience us, and say "This is for you, Jesus?" I am reminded of blessed Chiara Luce Badano, who was beatified last Saturday. If you don't know about this remarkable young woman, here is an article for you: http://www.archden.org/index.cfm/ID/2883/The-Good-News-on-Youth/ As she suffered and ultimately died from osteogenic sarcoma, she gave us a beautiful example of how to take up our cross, no matter what it might be. She truly found her life in dying.
Blessed Chiara Badano, pray for us.
For anyone who thinks that the Catholic Church discourages the reading of scripture, they should read 131-133. She echos the words of St. Jerome: "Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ." Catholics, especially in the modern age where we have the means and the education, must become more familiar with scripture...which is exactly the purpose of this exercise.