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Monday, January 9, 2017 Plough Monday

Genesis, Chapter 26, Verse 7
When the men of the place asked questions about his wife, he answered, “She is my sister.” He was afraid that, if he called her his wife, the men of the place would kill him on account of Rebekah, since she was beautiful.

So Isaac (whom was bound as a sacrificial offering to God) the only son of Abraham, now is grown, has a wife and is pulling the same trick as his father Abraham with the men who desire his wife-stating she is my sister.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, the recurring story has a unified purpose:

"From the point of view of the history of culture these episodes are very instructive. But it is not very probable that Abraham would have run the risk twice. Moreover, a similar incident is reported in regard to Isaac and Rebecca. This recurrence indicates that none of the accounts is to be accepted as historical; all three are variations of a theme common to the popular oral histories of the Patriarchs. That women were married in the way here supposed is not to be doubted. The purpose of the story is to extol the heroines as most beautiful and show that the Patriarchs were under the special protection of the Deity."[1]

Another lesson we can take from this is that Isaac here was dealing with men that had no fear of God. Men who take what they want and will kill to get it. Isaac here could not fight them because he was not strong enough. Isaac could not leave because there was a famine. So he sought to deceive. Yet, even in his weakness God was with him and when Abimelech, the righteous king, discovered the truth put him under his royal protection; thus saving him from danger. Righteous men & nations always seek to protect the weak.

Baptism of Jesus[2]


"Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near" (Is 55, 6).

These words from the second part of the Book of Isaiah ring out on this Sunday that ends the Christmas season. They are an invitation to go more deeply into the meaning for us of today's Feast, the Baptism of the Lord. In spirit let us return to the banks of the Jordan where John the Baptist administered a Baptism of repentance, exhorting to conversion. Coming up to the Precursor is Jesus, and with his presence he transformed that gesture of repentance into a solemn manifestation of his divinity. A voice suddenly comes from heaven:  "You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased" (Mk 1, 11) and, in the form of a dove, the Spirit descends upon Jesus. In that extraordinary event, John saw realized what had been said about the Messiah born in Bethlehem, adored by the shepherds and the Magi. He was the very One foretold by the prophets, the beloved Son of the Father; we must seek him while he can be found and call upon him while he is at hand. In Baptism every Christian personally meets him; he is inserted into the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection and receives a new life, which is the life of God. What a great gift and what a great responsibility!


Blessing of Water[3]

The commemoration of our Lord's Baptism in the Jordan led to a number of impressive blessings concerning water. In Palestine, the river Jordan itself was blessed, with throngs of the faithful immersing in it three times to obtain the blessing, while in Egypt, the whole Christian population and its livestock would show up for the blessing of the Nile and do the same thing. In Byzantium, Epiphany water was blessed in church and then distributed. Rome followed this custom, instituting it on the Vigil of the feast. The formula for the blessing may be found in the Roman ritual.

Plough Monday[4]

Today is the traditional start of the English agricultural year. While local practices may vary, Plough Monday is generally the first Monday after Twelfth Day (Epiphany), 6 January. The day traditionally saw the resumption of work after the Christmas period. As we begin our working year let us remember that our primary work in the world as a follower of Christ is to do his will for us putting our hand on the plough and looking forward to the year; may all of our days and rows be straight.

No man, having put his hand ... - To put one's hand to a plow is a proverbial expression to signify undertaking any business. In order that a plowman may accomplish his work, it is necessary to look onward - to be intent on his employment - not to be looking back with regret that he undertook it. So in religion; He that enters on it must do it with his whole heart, He that comes still loving the world - still looking with regret on its pleasures, its wealth, and its honors - that has not "wholly" forsaken them as his portion, cannot be a Christian, and is not fit for the kingdom of God. How searching is this test to those who profess to be Christians! And how solemn the duty of all people to renounce all earthly objects, and to be not only "almost," but "altogether," followers of the Son of God! It is perilous to tamper with the world - to look at its pleasures or to seek its society. He that would enter heaven must come with a heart full of love to God; giving "all" into his hands, and prepared always to give up all his property, his health, his friends, his body, his soul to God, when he demands them, or he cannot be a Christian. Religion is everything or nothing. He that is not willing to sacrifice "everything" for the cause of God, is really willing to sacrifice nothing.






[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wife%E2%80%93sister_narratives_in_the_Book_of_Genesis
[2] HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II, Sistine Chapel, Sunday, 12 January 2003
[4] Barnes' Notes on the Bible


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