“Then some man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.” —Genesis 32:25
The Lord has wonderful plans for us — “plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope” (Jer 29:11). However, He will not force us to accept His plans. We must say with Mary: “Let it be done to me according to Your word” (Lk 1:38, our transl).
The Lord had a wonderful plan for Jacob. To say “yes” to this plan, Jacob had to:
wrestle “with divine and human beings” all night (Gn 32:29),
suffer injury (Gn 32:26),
receive a blessing (Gn 32:27), and
have his name changed (Gn 32:29).
To say “yes” to God often requires ongoing suffering and major changes in our lives. These will result in great blessings. However, we may struggle all night or longer to believe this.
God has great plans (see Heb 11:40). He’s looking for limping, tired, changed, and blessed wrestlers to accept them (see Heb 12:12ff). Will you wrestle?
Prayer: Father, give me the grace to wrestle against and prevail over “the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of darkness, the evil spirits in regions above” (Eph 6:12).
Promise: “The harvest is good but laborers are scarce. Beg the Harvest Master to send out laborers to gather His harvest.” —Mt 9:37-38
Praise: Ann’s husband ridicules her and derides her faith. She responds by loving him, praying for him, and trusting Jesus for his conversion.
From a discourse on the psalms by
Saint Augustine, bishop
[ 354 – 430 A.D. ]
We entreat you, brothers, as earnestly as we are able, to have charity, not only for one another, but also for those who are outside the Church. Of these some are still pagans, who have not yet made an act of faith in Christ. Others are separated, insofar as they are joined with us in professing faith in Christ, our head, but are yet divided from the unity of his body. My friends, we must grieve over these as over our brothers; and they will only cease to be so when they no longer say our Father.
The prophet refers to some men saying: When they say to you: You are not our brothers, you are to tell them: You are our brothers. Consider whom he intended by these words. Were they the pagans? Hardly; for nowhere either in Scripture or in our traditional manner of speaking do we find them called our brothers. Nor could it refer to the Jews, who do not believe in Christ. Read Saint Paul and you will see that when he speaks of “brothers,” without any qualification, he refers always to Christians. For example, he says: Why do you judge your brother or why do you despise your brother? And again: You perform iniquity and common fraud, and this against your brothers.
Those then who tell us: You are not our brothers, are saying that we are pagans. That is why they want to baptize us again, claiming that we do not have what they can give. Hence their error of denying that we are their brothers. Why then did the prophet tell us: Say to them: You are our brothers? It is because we acknowledge in them that which we do not repeat. By not recognising our baptism, they deny that we are their brothers; on the other hand, when we do not repeat their baptism but acknowledge it to be our own, we are saying to them: You are our brothers.
If they say, “Why do you seek us? What do you want of us?” we should reply: You are our brothers. They may say, “Leave us alone. We have nothing to do with you.” But we have everything to do with you, for we are one in our belief in Christ; and so we should be in one body, under one head.
And so, dear brothers, we entreat you on their behalf, in the name of the very source of our love, by whose milk we are nourished, and whose bread is our strength, in the name of Christ our Lord and his gentle love. For it is time now for us to show them great love and abundant compassion by praying to God for them. May he one day give them a clear mind to repent and to realise that they have nothing now but the sickness of their hatred, and the stronger they think they are, the weaker they become. We entreat you then to pray for them, for they are weak, given to the wisdom of the flesh, to fleshly and carnal things, but yet they are our brothers. They celebrate the same sacraments as we, not indeed with us, but still the same. They respond with the same Amen, not with us, but still the same. And so pour out your hearts for them in prayer to God.
“Before Jesus had finished speaking to them, a synagogue leader came up.” —Matthew 9:18
While Jesus was talking about a new way of living and fasting, “a synagogue leader came up, did Him reverence, and said: ‘My daughter has just died. Please come and lay Your hand on her and she will come back to life’ ” (Mt 9:18). Jesus then raised the little girl from the dead (Mt 9:25). This resurrection-miracle immediately followed His healing a woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years (Mt 9:22). These miracles of healing and resurrection are put in the context of Jesus’ words on fasting. This may imply that fasting according to Jesus’ will is powerful enough to heal the sick, even the long-term sick, and to raise the dead.
I have not seen many people take Jesus seriously about fasting, but the few who have fasted as Jesus has directed have not had any complaints. They have found that the Bible’s promises relating to fasting are all true and in fact understated. A few of the saints have realized this, and they have sought God’s permission to fast very frequently.
Many of us feel helpless surrounded by a “culture of death.” We wish we could do something to love the Lord and serve His people. Fasting may be one of our best opportunities to express our love. Make July a “fast month.”
Prayer: Jesus, teach us to pray (Lk 11:1) and fast. Make me docile.
Promise: “There was the Lord standing beside him.” —Gn 28:13
Praise: St. Maria Goretti’s mother was widowed with seven small children. She suffered the brutal murder of her twelve-year-old daughter Maria. Yet she forgave her daughter’s murderer. God rewarded her by allowing her to be alive to witness her daughter’s canonization as a saint forty-eight years later.