Genesis 28–30, Psalm 10, Matthew 10
We would probably not like to have Jacob as an influence on our children. He was a liar and cheat who found his match in his Uncle Laban. These two rogues swindled one another back and forth, riding roughshod over the feelings of Rachel and Leah, to say nothing of poor Zilpah and Bilhah. It is natural to wonder what rogues like this are doing in the Bible. And how did Jacob get to be a patriarch, mentioned in solemn tones along with Abraham and Isaac?
The gospel lesson does not help us out very much, as the twelve disciples are introduced with a tax collector (a profession then based on extortion) and a traitor prominent among them. They are sent into a world of wolves where betrayal, slander, and discord are to be expected.
Thoughtful modern readers stand with the psalmist asking, “Why?” Why does God let the arrogant, the wicked, and the deceitful seem to have free reign? Why isn’t the Bible full of saintly folk who set us a good example?
The answer is that our ancestors knew that the Bible is not a book about people but a book about God. They did not go out of their way to make the people of the Bible appear any more saintly than anyone else. The wonder is that the glory of God is able to shine through sinful humanity. The wonder is that God does beautiful things with rogues, misfits, and bumblers, as well as the occasional saint. That is what God was doing in ancient times, and it is what God is doing today.
How might the glory and goodness of God shine through sinful people?
How might God be working through you—in spite of yourself?
God of glory and goodness, let your light shine through my life in ways beyond my knowing, and help me to always be ready to see that light shining through others. Amen.
-The Rev. Dr. Francis H. Wade
Washington National Cathedral