In the first reading from Mass on Monday, July 8, Genesis 28:11-22, we hear the story of Jacob’s ladder. The Fathers of the Church saw in Jacob’s ladder a prophetic image of Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is both True God and True Man, is a ladder uniting heaven and earth upon which God first descends to us so that we might ascend to Him!
We see this ladder image played out in Matthew 9:18-26, the Gospel passage from the same day. In this passage, Jesus heals two people, the woman with the hemorrhage and the official’s daughter. By a simple touch Jesus descends into their hopelessness allowing them to ascend the ladder of hope and healing to new life in God.
The fact that He touched them, or allowed Himself to be touched in the case of the woman with the hemorrhage, is significant. According to Jewish ceremonial law, touching the bleeding woman or the corpse of the official’s daughter rendered Jesus ritually unclean; that is, unfit for Temple sacrifice and worship. But Jesus has already said to the Pharisees who were outraged that He was eating with sinners that God “desires mercy, not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13). Jesus ranks mercy over the ceremonial law because only the ladder of God’s mercy, only His sacrifice, can bridge the infinite gap between God and man.
Brothers and Sisters, what about us? Do we experience the mercy of God in our own lives? Do we try to ascend to God by the ladder of sacrifice and human effort or do we beg Him to first come to us? Do we allow the ladder of God’s mercy to touch down upon those areas of our hearts that are bleeding or even dead so that we might rise and ascend to new life in Him?
This is God’s desire for us, that we would allow His mercy, which comes to us in the sacrifice of Jesus, to be the ladder by which we climb to Him. This can happen every time we go to Mass. In the Eucharist—the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus—heaven and earth are united. In the Eucharist, Jesus comes to us as we are, to once again eat with poor sinners. He comes to forgive, He comes to heal, He comes so that through Him, we might return to God our Father!
+ Fr. Isaac Spinharney, CFR
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