Day 17: Jacob Meets Esau

Genesis 33:1-20 When Esau arrived, Jacob appeased him with one final gesture-seven profound bows, an honor reserved for a king. His efforts worked, and Esau greeted him with great joy and grace. Bowing deeply is a sign of deference and respect, and the act of bowing holds a prominent place in the liturgy and is encouraged as an act of reverence before receiving the Eucharist; it is the usual sign of adoration of the Real Presence of Christ in the tabernacle. (CCC 1378)

Ch 34:1-31 Angered over their sister’s rape by the very man who now asked for her hand in marriage, Jacob’s sons tricked the men of Shechem into getting circumcised and then proceeded to slaughter them while they were immobilized from the pain of the operation. (CCC 2356)

Job 23:1-17 Job desired to plead his case before God face to face even though he expressed doubt that God would be swayed by his words. On Mt. Sinai, at some level, Moses beheld the face of God and lived; the blessed in heaven are PRIVILEGED to see God face to face in the BEATIFIC VISION. (CCC 163, 1028, 1045, 2576)

Ch 24:1-25 Sinful people in many instances become oblivious to any accountability to God or their actions. This failure to take responsibility constitutes a sin against hope called PRESUMPTION, which along with DESPAIR are among the sins against the theological virtue of HOPE. (CCC 2088-2903)

Proverbs 3:13-20 We can see wisdom in the works of creation and, thereby, behold a glimmer of God’s beauty, goodness, and power. Discernment of God’s will depends on the personal desire to give him glory AT ALL TIMES. (CCC 299)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

  • We heard yesterday that Jacob wrestled with God for an entire night and his name was changed to Israel

  • Something unique happens now that we have not yet seen…..RECONCILIATION

  • Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible---> the author notes that when Jacob goes to meet Esau, he doesn’t go on his own, or with only his family, but he goes with many gifts that he gives to Esau

  • Jacob’s life had been one of theft, scheming, and deceit

  • But it is the Love of God that blesses Jacob

  • After God blesses Jacob, he is now different moving forward

  • In Ch 34, Shechem rapes Dinah, the daughter of Jacob

  • Her brothers take vengeance on the people of Shechem and Hamor for this

  • Jacob wants to deal fairly with them

  • The sons of Jacob want to deal with them vengefully and maybe justly

  • It’s kind of hard to tell in a difficult, lawless place like that

  • Now this time, Jacob does not deceive

  • Maybe Jacob would have capitulated and made a covenant with Shechem and Hamor but this time, he doesn’t want to do it by deception

  • Scripture is full of brokenness

  • What happened to Dinah was evil “It ought not to be done.”

  • This rarely happens when describing the stories of the fathers and mothers of Israel that the actions of persons described as EVIL

  • It was the actions of the people of Shechem, not Israel

  • Nevertheless, it was horrible

  • It was preceded by something that was remarkable

  • Gen 33:11 Jacob brings a gift for his brother Esau (Blessing)

  • Jacob is returning the BLESSING to Esau that He deceived Isaac out of

  • The portion of the blessing that relates to material prosperity is now shared with Esau as an ACT OF RESTORATION

  • For the first time in the story of salvation, there is HOPE that RECONCILIATION AND FORGIVENESS can save the day

  • This is the first time we see MERCY

  • This is the first time we see FORGIVENESS

  • This is the first time we see RECONCILIATION

  • And after this, we hear and see incredible brokenness in the rape of an innocent girl, Dinah in Ch 34

  • Gen 33:12-17 show that the reconciliation between Jacob and Esau is NOT total and, further, that Jacob does not intend to share the ancestral land with his brother (*NABRE 3rd ed Catholic Study Bible)

  • Isn’t this how life works so often?

  • There are blessings, forgiveness, and then there’s ugliness again

  • What do we do?

  • How do we respond?

  • Part of it is, We do what we do today

  • We keep moving forward

  • We identify what is good and we praise God for it

  • We name what is bad, what is evil

  • We do everything in our power to get the bad evil things out of our hearts first, then our relationships, then our civilization, and our culture

  • We must first recognize in our own lives we need RECONCILIATION AND FORGIVENESS


  • Dinah’s brothers are full of anger and wrath and brokenness and a need for justice

  • All these same things reside in our hearts too

  • We need to pray and ask God to do something about that


  • This is an important lesson, Job continues to note there are good people who die and there are bad people who seem to be rewarded

  • Logic would say that good people are rewarded and bad people die

  • But Job points out that life isn’t so straightforward

  • Life isn’t so clear-cut

  • Job is trying to make sense of this and wrestles with the Lord

  • Job (and maybe ourselves too) in the midst of trial and pain continues to wrestle with the Lord

  • “It would seem to me that if you were close, that if you cared, that if you are LOVE, then you would deliver me from this pain.”

  • Yet, we still find ourselves in the midst of suffering in a broken world

  • We are on day 17 of our Journey, and we won’t stop now

  • We don’t stop when we encounter these difficult passages

  • We don’t stop when we encounter all this pain

  • We don’t stop when we encounter things we don’t understand

  • We keep on moving forward because we know that God writes straight with crooked lines

  • God’s Will is going to triumph, it is inevitable

  • But sometimes it seems like His Will has to triumph IN SPITE of our brokenness and NOT BECAUSE OF any goodness that we bring to the story

  • God can redeem EVEN THE WORST STORIES

  • We all have broken stories, just like the broken story that we are reading for the next 347 days

  • Because we are getting ourselves closer and closer to God, even our broken stories can be part of His story that He is writing

  • Please pray for each other


  • We are all in the midst of this story together



Prayer by Fr. Mike: "Father in Heaven, we thank you for this day. We thank you for your Word. We thank you for revealing your heart to us. We thank you also, that you have revealed to us that not only are you present when things are good, you are present when things are dark, that even as our friend Job complains and complains rightly in the midst of his suffering. You hear his complaint. You will answer, Lord, even though so often you are quiet. You will answer us. And today you answer us by giving us your Word, proclaiming to us through this incredible technology and so we thank you and we praise your name. We praise your name that is revealed to us through the words of your Bible, through the words of your Church. We thank you this day and every day. Please receive our thanks in Jesus’ name. Amen."


It's nice to finally get a happy ending to a story after so much brokenness. We can see the Sacrament of Reconciliation illustrated through Jacob and Esau (except that both sinned, whereas God is who we reconcile with, as he does not betray our Covenant, only we do).

I noticed that of all the brothers that took vengeance for their sister, it was Simeon and Levi, done with the sword. It reminded me of how the Levites were the ones Moses called on to avenge the idolatry of the golden calf, done with the sword; they were then ordained and chosen to be the ministerial priesthood. It also reminded me of Simon-Peter who tried to stop Jesus from being arrested, using a sword. His link to Levi and the Levites is also found in being given the keys to the kingdom, which Dr. Brant Pitre highlights as having priestly connotations.

You can learn more about it in his talk "The Jewish Roots of the Papacy" at this YouTube link. I highly recommend it!