The stories of the Bible teach us so much about human nature.
Jacob was a quiet lad like his mother-he preferred cooking and staying indoors. Jung the eminent therapist might have said, even though he wasn’t a girl, that Jacob displayed anima energy, the feminine aspect of being human. Whereas, his brother Esau was fierce, hairy, a hunter, a provider, who displayed animus energy, the masculine aspect of being human.
So here they were, these too, typifying different ways to be human. Who would inherit the wealth and the blessing of the father and the family fortune? It should have gone by birthright to Esau, but he could’ve cared less about it, and Jacob, influenced by his mother, lusted after the birthright. I can’t help but wonder when people are rendered powerless with little opportunity, how they might respond.
Jacob with the help of his mother cheats Esau of his blessing from their father, but then he runs away to make his life elsewhere. But his past catches up with him, at least spiritually.
Jacob even after he puts in seven years of honest labor is cheated out of what he most desires.
Just like he cheated his brother Esau out of the rightful blessing of the inheritance from their blind father, now he loses the blessing of his life, the one person he wants to be his wife, Rachel. She is so beautiful. So fresh, so perfect, so desirable.
Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about 60 pounds of flour. Leaven, yeast was considered undesirable to the people of Israel. They ate unleavened bread.
Jesus was telling his people something they didn’t understand, to them yeast bread was nasty. They wanted flat bread. Yet yeast symbolized God’s Kingdom–something unfathomable, something growthful, something not normal, something wayward, something marvelously contradictory, something new.
God’s yeast signifies heaven and it is not about the power and the might of men, nor is it about the good baking of women.
Yet it is a woman who demonstrates the kingdom of heaven–she represents the ordinary, the comfortable, the good aromas in the kitchen.
Perhaps Jesus intends to balance masculine power hierarchy with feminine care and spirituality.
The woman, Jesus says, is doing something new, and it is important. She is making yeast-bread, a food unlike the flat bread people were accustomed to.
For people who’ve never eaten yeast bread, it would probably smell horrible and taste terrible in their mouths. And in their minds.
Change shakes us up. We don’t like it.
My husband cooks a Brazilian dish called Feshada. It’s a dish of black beans with a few select spices. It was made by slaves who used to throw in leftover meat, and serve it over rice.
It looks like tar. Philip always laughs and says it could be used to fill in potholes. Nasty. But it tastes like, well, like heaven. And it is good for one’s health–beans and rice combination is considered one of the best food groups.
God’s yeast is like that–something that might at first glance be confounding and yet is the source of good food, good spiritual nourishment, personal growth.
– Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, says: Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Do we not all hope to be instruments of peace?
How are we to be transformed from ordinary flour into extraordinary yeasty bread? Have you smelled bread baking in the kitchen? Doesn’t it make your mouth water? God’s yeast does that only spiritually.God’s yeast grows us into better, stronger, more selfless people?
Selflessness, by the way, is not the same as being a door mat or a martyr. Selflessness is acting out of freedom for the greater good of others. You aren’t free until you’re free. First, prepare the mix. Don’t expect immediate results. Yeast takes a while to multiply and raise the bread. The temperature of the hot water has to be just right too, or the yeast will die. So we must prepare the mix, we must prepare ourselves.
We do that through worship, through prayer, through study of Scripture, through loving our neighbors, through our witness of love in the world.
Churches provide opportunities to be in community, to learn about Christ, to practice prayer, to be deeply centered in meaningful life.
God’s yeast grows us from the inside out.
God is love. We are love.
How come we don’t see it and act it all the time?
The Christian journey is a process of becoming, a means to become transformed from fear to love, form imprisonment to freedom.
God transforms Jacob, through his hard work and ultimately self-awareness into a new being. He is still Jacob but God calls him Israel, a new flesh–a fountain of abundance.
Jacob’s bride, Rachel, the blessing he really wanted, did not come for free.
Yes. God’s love is free.
Jesus comes to save us not because we are good, but because God is good.
God loves us so much he sent his child, Jesus, who transforms the world, and us, into better versions of ourselves.
Heaven is about growing, becoming, through our development, a rich food for others . We become bigger people not in size but in what matters most.
In the church, we are Jacobs who through God’s grace will become Israels.
Pray the timeless Prayer For Peace of St. Francis of Assisi–and repeat it daily. It might just transform your understanding..
Prayer of St. Francis,(Make Me A Channel of Your Peace) sung by Angelina, EWTN https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZI1Gst7pEqc
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon, Where there is doubt, faith, Where there is despair, hope, Where there is darkness, light, and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Blessing: May your heart and mind be enriched with fresh awareness and energy from God’s yeast that gently grows you and the people you love.