It seems that Abraham, even in his old age, saw fit to take another wife, and has six sons with her (and who knows how many daughters). Still, Isaac inherits everything when Abraham dies at the age of 175.
Very sweetly, Abraham is buried with Sarah in the cave of Macpelah, and the story turns to that of Isaac and his descendants.
Rebekah is blessed with twins who apparently start fighting even before they are born, and the Lord makes a prophecy to her, that their people will be divided, and that the elder will serve the younger.
I find the episode between Jacob and Esau with the pottage to be curious, where Esau sells his birthright to Jacob apparently for bread and lentil stew. All this after we just read that Esau was a skillful hunter, and had been out in the field. Jacob is clearly the smart one...
Abimelech must be getting pretty old at this point. Fortunately he has a good memory, because he calls Isaac out when Isaac "pulls an Abraham," trying to pass off his wife as his sister. Now, granted, Rebekah is his cousin...but I had really hoped that Abraham would have let Isaac know that this trick wasn't a great idea...or perhaps it was because it worked so well for his father that he utilizes the strategy. In any case, he doesn't do a good job of acting the part, because Isaac apparently isn't too good at controlling himself, "fondling" his wife where he could be seen through one of Abimelech's window.
Abimelech takes Isaac to task, much like he did Abraham, and grants him protection, but after he becomes very successful asks him to leave. Isaac leaves, and reminiscent of his father's exploits, has some disputes over wells (which oddly enough remind me of the swamp castle from Monty Python and the Holy Grail..."But the fourth one stayed up!") and eventually returns to Beer-sheba, where Abimelech makes an agreement with him to have peace between his people and the Philistines.
There is a lot going on here, and I think we have to resist the temptation to try and look at only the behavior of these old testament heroes, but how they respond to God's words and commands. Perhaps Abraham and Isaac make mistakes as they move through their lives, but they are faithful to what God asks of them. So it should be with us...we're going to mess up, and God knows it. But if we keep his commands, things work out for the best, despite our unconscious methods to mess things up.
We end on an oddly cryptic note...that Esau takes a couple of Hittite wives who make life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah...We'll see where this goes.
This is a longish psalm in comparison to the others read so far...and very beautiful indeed. The 30th verse tells us something very profound:
"This God - his way is perfect; the promise of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him."
It sums up the preceding 29 verses quite nicely.
If only we always had the presence of mind to go to God first when we are in trouble.
I find it interesting in Matthew that we don't hear how John the Baptist wound up in prison.
Certainly, it is humanly understandable that John would want to know for sure that the man he baptized is indeed the Messiah, especially since he likely had a view of the messiah not unlike other Jews of his time. Jesus speaks to the crowds about this, and calls out some Isaiah in explaining John's role as herald. He also calls John out as Elijah's coming. This can be a bit confusing...how can John be Elijah? We Catholics don't do reincarnation, so what gives?
We believe that John comes in the spirit of Elijah. I think I'll expand more on that when we get to the prophecies concerning Elijah's return and also Luke's Gospel.
It is amazing how this ties in today...Talking about Abraham's obedience as I mentioned above. We respond to God's invitation by submitting our intellect and our will to God and His revelation. This does not mean that we shut off our intellect or simply allow our will to drift...rather it means that we orient our intellectual pursuits and our actions toward God. We are not mindless (and anyone who claims Christians or Catholics are mindless should read some Aquinas!) in our faith, but mindful of our faith. For truth can not contradict truth, be it scientific truth, spiritual truth, or natural truth. There is one truth, and it is harmonious.
I love the way the Catechism holds up two individuals as examples of true obedience in faith. Abraham, who held nothing back from God when asked, and Mary, who likewise gave completely of herself when God revealed His plan to her.
God Bless and Good Night!