He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob's hip 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." So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." Then the man said, "You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked him, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And there he blessed him.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved." The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.
Lord, hear a cause that is just,
pay heed to my cry.
Turn your ear to my prayer:
no deceit is on my lips. (R./)
From you may my judgement come forth.
Your eyes discern the truth.
You search my heart, you visit me by night.
You test me and you find in me no wrong. (R./)
I am here and I call,
you will hear me, O God.
Turn your ear to me;
hear my words.
Display your great love,
you whose right hand saves your friends
from those who rebel against them. (R./)
Guard me as the apple of your eye.
Hide me in the shadow of your wings.
In my justice I shall see your face
and be filled, when I awake,
with the sight of your glory. (R./)
After they had gone away, a demoniac who was dumb was brought to Jesus. And when the demon had been cast out, the one who had been dumb spoke; and the crowds were amazed and said, "Never has anything like this been seen in Israel." But the Pharisees said, "By the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons."
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest."
A life-change is mentioned in the gospel and treated at more length in Genesis. Matthew has Jesus saving a man from demonic possession. But he does not say how the man, once cured by Jesus, adapted to his new situation. Suddenly he was cured and could speak again, and his entire life must be re-thought.
The Genesis story describes Jacob wresting all night long with some unseen force. In the end Jacob finds that he has been wrestling with God. For this reason he named the place "Peniel," in Hebrew, "face of God." He is amazed to have survived, "I have seen God face to face yet my life has been spared" — which conflicts with the established belief that nobody can see the face of God and live (Exod 33:20). Jacob had his dramatic night-time struggle while returning from Haran to the promised land, eventually to be named "Israel" after him. His future is foretold, "You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed." His future life was markedly different from his past and more clearly under God’s guiding providence.
For the rest of his life Jacob carried a notable limp after his wrestling with the angel. Sometimes we too can no longer stand as tall as before. We may hear God’s call to us anew, asking us to make a new and different contribution to the life of others. In Jacob’s story we can find a new type of strength. For God chooses those whom the world considers foolish to shame the wise; he selects the weak to show new aspects of life to the strong. Our life finds its fullest realisation if we don’t shun the struggle entailed.
What a contrast between how ordinary folk admired Jesus’ miracles and how the Pharisees scorned them. The people said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel." The Pharisees said, "It is through the prince of devils that he casts out devils." The people saw God at work in what Jesus was doing; the Pharisees saw Satan at work in him. It is hard to imagine a more contrasting response. The people, in contrast to the Pharisees, were attuned to the presence and action of God in Jesus.
This gospel invites us to ask ourselves, "To what extent do I sense the presence of God around me, especially in the good other people are doing?" We can be prone to objecting to things and missing the good that is actually there. We can be more attuned to noticing what’s wrong than what’s right. While never being blind to evil and sin, we need to be open to how the Lord is at work in our lives and in the lives of others. Jesus was sensitive to the good in others, even when they failed to see it for themselves. We need to adopt that positive way of seeing things, and not highlight the negative above all else.