Wrestling with angels
In the other corner... weighing... not-as-much-as-that-lying-scale-says... us!
Both of today’s readings involve struggles with angelic beings. In the first reading (Genesis 32:23-32), Jacob – thereafter named Israel - wrestles with a messenger of God. In the Gospel (Matthew 9:32-38), our Lord drives out a fallen angel who had possessed a mute man.
Wrestling with angels – good or bad – does not always end happily in Scripture. A classic instance of this is in the book of Acts (19:13-16), when people who do not believe in the Lord Jesus try to use his name against a demon.
Some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." (Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this.)
But the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?"
And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, mastered all of them, and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
There are many today, even some within the Church, who dismiss the very idea of angels as a vestige of superstition (foolishly, since the existence of superhuman incorporeal beings is a key element of revelation, of most non-Christian cosmologies, and even contemporary science fiction).
Yet even if one has problems with their own childish concept of angels as luminous feathery things, there is no denying the fundamental concept that angels represent and that underlies these readings: there are forces in this universe that are greater than we are - forces that we can only master by the grace and favor of God.
Jacob/Israel, after whom the People of God would be named, prevailed by God’s favor.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the source of all grace, has the mastery by that same grace.
May we remember that grace and remain faithful to it, no matter what forces or challenges we may encounter in our lives.