Temat för kommande söndag är, enligt Svenska kyrkans ordning, Trons kamp och en av texterna berättelsen om Jakobs kamp vid Jabbok. En fantastisk text, ”värdig en Rembrandt” som en tysk exeget uttryckt det (Gunkel).
När jag ska predika, vilket jag har förmånen att göra denna söndag, ser jag alltid om jag kan hitta en utläggning av de aktuella texterna från påve Benedict. Han är, i mitt tycke, en av de främsta bibelutläggarna i vår tid. En sådan insikt i textens djupdimensioner, vilka han dessutom på ett konstruktivt sätt tar hjälp av historisk-kritisk forskning för att komma åt. Det är en ovanlig kombination. Här återfinns följande utläggning från honom om kampen vid Jabboks vadställe:
Biblical exegetes give many interpretations to this passage; the scholars in particular recognize in it literary connotations and components of various genres, as well as references to some popular accounts. But when these elements are taken up by the authors of the Sacred texts and incorporated into the biblical narrative, they change their meaning and the text opens up to broader dimensions. For the believer the episode of the struggle at the Jabbok thus becomes a paradigm in which the people of Israel speak of their own origins and outline the features of a particular relationship between God and humanity. Therefore, as is also affirmed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “from this account, the spiritual tradition of the Church has retained the symbol of prayer as a battle of faith and as the triumph of perseverance” (n. 2573). The Bible text speaks to us about a long night of seeking God, of the struggle to learn his name and see his face; it is the night of prayer that, with tenacity and perseverance, asks God for a blessing and a new name, a new reality that is the fruit of conversion and forgiveness.
For the believer Jacob’s night at the ford of the Jabbok thus becomes a reference point for understanding the relationship with God that finds in prayer its greatest expression. Prayer requires trust, nearness, almost a hand-to-hand contact that is symbolic not of a God who is an enemy, an adversary, but a Lord of blessing who always remains mysterious, who seems beyond reach. Therefore the author of the Sacred text uses the symbol of the struggle, which implies a strength of spirit, perseverance, tenacity in obtaining what is desired. And if the object of one’s desire is a relationship with God, his blessing and love, then the struggle cannot fail but ends in that self-giving to God, in recognition of one’s own weakness, which is overcome only by giving oneself over into God’s merciful hands.
Dear brothers and sisters, our entire lives are like this long night of struggle and prayer, spent in desiring and asking for God’s blessing, which cannot be grabbed or won through our own strength but must be received with humility from him as a gratuitous gift that ultimately allows us to recognize the Lord’s face. And when this happens, our entire reality changes; we receive a new name and God’s blessing.