Among the many journeys undertaken at night which are recorded in Sacred Scripture, this one, which forms our Old Testament Mass reading, occupies a special place.
‘And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Tell me, I pray, your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”’
The story can be read on many levels. It could be seen as Jacob’s redemption after his deceiving of his brother Esau; it can equally be said to contain the entire spiritual journey of the Christian, which is, after all, a seeking for and a journey towards the Face of God. It is as the day breaks, it is with the dawn, that the struggle is resolved. That light of dawn is the ‘true light, which enlightens every man’.
May we live ceaselessly turned towards that Light, that it may shine through us to others, and may God bless you this day.