For the Fourth of July we would like readings that help us celebrate American independence, but these readings the Church gives us leave us enough to shout about. To appreciate Jacob’s dream and what it meant at the time we should know that all the world’s religions back then pictured God as impossibly remote from mankind.
Every nation had a story similar to our story about the downfall of Adam and Eve. Their religions were all based on the belief that the gods had gone away, breaking off all relations with mankind. With nation after nation their main religious festival was at New Years when they re-enacted their creation myth in the hope they could induce heaven to re-establish communications, giving them a second chance.
In his dream Jacob saw one stream of messengers carrying our needs up to God, and another one bringing back the needed help from God. That dream conveyed a joyous message to Jacob. It told him, “God is not remote. He takes a loving interest is all that concerns us. “ That dream caused the Israelites to say, “Never has any nation had its gods as close to it as out God is to us!”
Of course the Gospel goes miles and miles beyond the first reading. In the Gospel we see the Son of God walking with us. We see his endearing concerned for us. Let’s count the kind things Jesus did in the story.
First, although he was in the midst of speaking to an audience, he broke off immediately when the official asked him to come. Second, he was silently aware of the woman’s ailment, curing it without breaking stride. Third, rather than take credit, he said it was the woman’s faith that did it. Fourth, instead of using loud incantations, he cured the little girl by taking her by one hand.