On the seventh day of Advent, my Jesse Tree devotion brought to me…. The story of Jacob, younger of the twin sons born to Isaac: Gen. 25:1-34; 28:10-15
Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. she bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Jokshan begot Sheba and Dedan. The descendants of Dedan were the Asshurim, the Letushim, and the Leummim. The descendants of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Enoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah. Abraham willed all that he owned to Isaac; but to Abraham’s sons by concubines Abraham gave gifts while he was still living, and he sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the East.
This was the total span of Abraham’s life: one hundred and seventy-five years. And Abraham breathed his last, dying at a good ripe age, old and contented; and he was gathered to his kin. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, facing Mamre, the field that Abraham had bought from the Hittites; there Abraham was buried, and Sarah his wife. After the death of Abraham, God blessed his son Isaac. And Isaac settled near Beer-lahai-roi.
This is the line of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s slave, bore to Abraham. These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, in the order of their birth: Nebaioth, the first-born of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedmah. These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names by their villages and by their encampments: twelve chieftains of as many tribes. These were the years of the life of Ishmael: one hundred and thirty-seven years; then he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his kin. They dwelt from Havilah, by Shur, which is close to Egypt, all the way to Asshur; they camped alongside all their kinsmen.
This is the story of Isaac, son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac. Isaac was forty years old when he took to wife Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord responded to his plea, and his wife Rebekah conceived. But the children struggled in her womb, and she said, “If so, why do I exist?” She went to inquire of the Lord, and the Lord answered her, “Two nations are in your womb, two separate peoples shall issue from your body; one people shall be mightier than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.”
When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first one emerged red, like a hairy mantle all over; so they named him Esau. Then his brother emerged, holding on to the heel of Esau; so they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.
When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the outdoors; but Jacob was a mild man who stayed in camp. Isaac favored Esau because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah favored Jacob. Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the open, famished. And Esau said to Jacob, “Give me some of that red stuff to gulp down, for I am famished” — which is why he was named Edom. Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” And Esau said, “I am at the point of death, so of what use is my birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Jacob then gave Esau bread and lentil stew; he ate and drank, and he rose and went away. Thus did Esau spurn the birthright.
Jacob left Beer-sheba, and set out for Haran. He came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky and angels of God were going up and down on it. And the Lord was standing beside him and He said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac: the ground on which you are laying I will assign to you and to your offspring. Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants. Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” [~~ Jewish Study Bible]
I wonder what kind of rock Jacob picked to use as his pillow, and why a rock would be preferable to the dirt?
Today, we get to take a look at Abraham’s son, Isaac: Gen. 22:1-14.
Some time afterward, God put Abraham to the test. He said to him, “Abraham,” and he answered, “Here I am.” And He said, “Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you.” So early next morning, Abraham saddled his ass and took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. He split the wood for the burnt offering, and he set out for the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his servants, “You stay here with the ass. The boy and I will go up there; we will worship ands we will return to you.”
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son Isaac. He himself took the firestone and the knife; and the two walked off together. Then Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he answered, “Yes, my son.” And he said, “Here are the firestone and the wood; but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “God will see to the sheep for His burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them walked on together.
They arrived at the place of which God had told him. Abraham built an altar there; he laid out the wood; he bound his son Isaac; he laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to slay his son. Then an angel of the Lord called to him from heaven: “Abraham! Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” And he said, “Do not raise your hand against the boy, or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your favored one, from Me.” When Abraham looked up, his eye fell upon a ram, caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. And Abraham named that site Adonai-yireh, whence the present saying, “On the mount of the Lord there is vision.” [~~ Jewish Study Bible]
These sheep do not look concerned that they might be offered up as a burnt offering.
Today’s Jesse Tree devotion looks at the story of Abraham: Gen. 12:1-3.
The Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse him that curses you; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.” [~~ Jewish Study Bible]
While not exactly the same, here’s a picture of Team Awesome’s excursion into the wilderness (of Ann Arbor beyond the confines of the MCIT party).
Today’s Jesse Tree topic continues the story of salvation history by looking at Noah: Gen. 6:5-8, 13-22; 7:17, 23, 24; 8:1, 6-22.
The Lord saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how every plan devised by his mind was nothing but evil all the time. And the Lord regretted that He had made man on earth, and His heart was saddened. The Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the men whom I created — men together with beasts, creeping things, and birds of the sky; for I regret that I made them.” But Noah found favor with the Lord.
God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to all flesh, for the earth is filled with lawlessness because of them: I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make it an ark with compartments, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you shall make it: the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make an opening for daylight in the ark, and terminate it within a cubit of the top. Put the entrance to the ark in its side; make it with a bottom, second, and third decks.
For My part, I am about to bring the Flood — waters upon the earth — to destroy all flesh under the sky in which there is breath of life; everything on earth shall perish. But I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall enter the ark, with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives. And of all that lives, of all flesh, you shall take two of each into the ark to keep alive with you; they shall be male and female. From birds of every kind, cattle of every kind, every kind of creeping thing on earth, two of each shall come to you to stay alive. For your part, take of everything that is eaten and store it away, to serve as food for you and for them.” Noah did so; just as God commanded him, so he did.
The Flood continued forty days on the earth, and the waters increased and raised the ark so that it rose above the earth.
All existence on earth was blotted out — man, cattle, creeping things, and birds of the sky; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
And when the waters had swelled on the earth one hundred and fifty days, God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark, and God caused a wind to blow across the earth, and the waters subsided.
At the end of the forty days, Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent out the raven; it went to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out the dove to see whether the waters had decreased from the surface of the ground. But the dove could not find a resting place for its foot, and returned to him to the ark, for there was water over all the earth. So putting out his hand, he took it into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again sent out the dove from the ark. The dove came back to him toward evening, and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the waters had decreased on the earth. He waited still another seven days and sent the dove forth; and it did not return to him any more.
In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the waters began to dry from the earth; and when Noah removed the covering of the ark, he saw that the surface of the ground was drying. And in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.
God spoke to Noah, saying, “Come out of the ark, together with your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds, animals, and everything that creeps on earth; and let them swarm on the earth and be fertile and increase on earth.” So Noah came out, together with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives. Every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that stirs on earth came out of the ark by families.
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking of every clean animal and of every clean bird, he offered burnt offerings on the altar. The Lord smelled the pleasing odor, and the Lord said to Himself: “Never again will I doom the earth because of man, since the devisings of man’s mind are evil from his youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living being, as I have done. So long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.” [~~ Jewish Study Bible]
Day 3 of our Jesse Tree devotion brings us the Fall of Man: Gen. 3:1-7 and 23-24. If only they hadn’t….
Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild beasts that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say: You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?” The woman replied to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the other trees of the garden. It is only about fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said: ‘You shall not eat of it or touch it, lest you die.’” And the serpent said to the woman, “You are not going to die, but God knows that as soon as you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like divine beings who know good and bad.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for eating and a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable as a source of wisdom, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they perceived that they were naked; and they sewed together fig leaves and made themselves loincloths.
So the Lord God banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he was taken. He drove the man out, and stationed east of the garden of Eden the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword, to guard the way to the tree of life. [~~ Jewish Study Bible]
What do you suppose the tree of life looked like? What kind of fruit did it have?
Continuing with our online Jesse Tree devotion, today we take a look at the story of Adam and Eve. Genesis 2:7-9, 18-24.
The Lord God formed man from the dust of the earth. He blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.
The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom He had formed. And from the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and bad.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him.” And the Lord God formed out of the earth all the wild beasts and all the birds of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that would be its name. And the man gave names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to all the wild beasts; but for Adam no fitting helper was found. So the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon the man; and, while he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that spot. And the Lord God fashioned the rib that He had taken from the man into a woman; and He brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called Woman, for from man she was taken.” Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh. [~~ Jewish Study Bible]
Today’s photo features K and J in a treed area of a local, urban version of Eden. While they represent Adam and Eve for the purposes of this post, they would never have disobeyed God, if put in the same situation.
Catholic Culture wrote a great article on the history and devotion of the Jesse Tree.
While I think the idea of making a physical Jesse Tree at home is pretty cool, I don’t think I will get around to doing it this year, although Kendra from Catholic All Year has made some amazing Jesse Tree ornaments that you should check out.
Instead, I’m thinking of doing an online Jesse Tree and see if I can remember to post every day. :) I have tons of photographs that I’ve taken throughout the years, so hopefully I have something representative of the readings of the day.
Today, we focus on Creation, and the readings of Genesis 1:1-31; 2:1-4.
When God began to create heaven and earth — the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water — God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, a first day.
God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water, that it may separate water from water.” God made the expanse, and it separated the water which was below the expanse from the water which was above the expanse. And it was so. God called the expanse Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
God said, “Let the water below the sky be gathered into one area, that the dry land may appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering of waters He called Seas. And God saw that this was good. And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation: seed-bearing plants, fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: seed-bearing plants of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that this was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from night; they shall serve as signs for the set times — the days and the years; and they serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth, to dominate the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that this was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and birds that fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” God created the great sea monsters, and all the living creatures of every kind that creep, which the waters brought forth in swarms, and all the winged birds of every kind. And God saw that this was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fertile and increase, fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
God said, “Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: cattle, creeping things, and wild beasts of every kind.” And it was so. God made wild beasts of every kind and cattle of every kind, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. And God saw that this was good. And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on the earth.” And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on the earth.”
God said, “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food. And to all the animals on land, to all the birds of the sky, and to everything that creeps on earth, in which there is the breath of life, I give all the green plants for food.” And it was so. And God saw all that He had made, and found it very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
The heavens and the earth were finished, and all their array. On the seventh day God finished the work that He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the work that He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it God ceased from all the work of creation that He had done. Such is the story of heaven and earth when they were created. [~~ Jewish Study Bible]
I remember, before 9/11 and security changes at the airports, flying into airports to meet my boyfriend. He would be waiting for me at the gate (occasionally the other way around), and there would be that nervous anticipation, that giddiness, that longing for the flight to *finally* be over.
And then it would be. And our eyes would meet each other across the gate. And I would leap into his arms.
Oh, yes. We were *that* couple. It was lovely.
This morning, I woke up and was going to bring some medication to a friend who was in the hospital. As I looked at how much time I had to get to the hospital and then to work, I thought that I might have enough time to stop by our church. Then, I’d be able to bring her the Eucharist, too.
And who wouldn’t want to receive the Eucharist?!?!
The more I thought about it, the more I was like, “Yes! Yes-yes-yes!” And I was looking forward to those few precious minutes while driving to the hospital, where I would have Jesus in the Eucharist in my hands in my own personal, tiny tabernacle.
It’s only about 2 miles from my house to church — roughly. For the first mile, I was recalling those feelings of anticipation and longing from those airport reunions. I couldn’t wait to see Him and be with Him. And I was so excited to bring Him to my friend. During the second mile, I thought about how amazing it was that soon I would be holding Him in my hand. To be able to pour my heart out to Him, and have Him right there.
And, of course, I’m all about sharing. And I most wanted to share this with one of my best friends. Because he would understand. After all, he holds Him in his hands every day when he celebrates Mass. I prayed that today my friend would feel that same overwhelming anticipation and joy at spending time with our Lord.
I have to say, I’m quite enjoying myself today. I have been working on filling the Twitter queue for the Firestarters, so that we have messages going out more routinely. I have been sending out the Mass readings on Saturday, but I was thinking of what else I could do.
As usual, I look to what I need in *my* life for inspiration.
And, I don’t really have a great relationship with the saints. I don’t know too many of them.
So, perhaps a Saint of the Day tweet would be welcome to others, as well.
While queueing up these tweets, I found some great stories! Many of these saints are truly interesting! (Duh, right? But I was surprised nonetheless.)
But then I was faced with another problem… How do you condense their lives into 140 characters or less???? :)
So far, I have saints lined up through the end of November. If you are so inclined, please follow us @FirestartersStA!
Tags: Saints and People of Note · St. Anastasia
All Saints’ Day has kind of crept up on me. I really need to introduce a lot more discipline into my days, but I have been failing miserably of late. I was speaking to a friend on the phone and it was about 5:30 pm when I finally realized that it was a Holy Day of Obligation and that I needed to get myself to church! Thank You, God, that you had me remember this!
At Mass, Fr. JJ told us to look up an obscure saint and start praying to him or her.
Here it is, 3 days later, and I am just now getting around to that. *sigh*
I found this entry on St. Clarus at Catholic Online’s website:
A priest, probably born at Rochester, England, Clarus went to Normandy, became a Benedictine monk, lived as a hermit, and settled at Naqueville, near Rouen. When he repulsed the advances of a noblewoman, she had him killed and beheaded near Saint-Clair-sur-Eph. His feast day is November 4th.
This saint speaks to me because lately I have felt called to pray in earnest for the chastity of my priests (to be clear, I *do not* know of any reason why I need to be praying this), and for them to have an undivided heart. St. Clarus seems like a good person to request help from in interceding for them.
It is also interestingly coincidental that this is Pope Francis’ prayer intention for November, “That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity.”
St. Clarus, pray for us!
Tags: Saints and People of Note