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Saturday, 16 June 2012

A Meditation on Rebekah for My Sisters Online

The women of the Old Testament came into their own in the Catholic Church when I was in my twenties, as Bible Studies for the home and church groups became popular. However, I grew up with the Bible, perhaps an usual scenario for a Catholic family in the 1950s and 1960s, but we had Bible Study in my Catholic school and I had my own Bible, which I loved, illustrated not only with beautiful pictures, but with photos from the Holy Land. The drawings were by an order of nuns. I gave it away years ago to another child.

One of my favorite women, who is human and not as perfect as a saint, is Rebekah. Her caring spirit led her to happiness. Now, for some reason, I have always liked camels. I have actually ridden on a camel in the past, and would do so again. I like the fact that they as "ships of the desert", strong, resilient, and fast, apparently. The one I rode went at a leisurely pace.

Rebekah gave water to the servant of Abraham, Eliezer, and to his camels. Maybe that is one reason I like the story so much. She took care of the man and the animals quite freely and drawing water for thirsty camels, and some commentaries state there were ten, would take a long time, perhaps all morning. Some commentators have noted that the girl would have made 34 trips to the well, based on how much water the typical camel would take after a journey and how much water she could hold in her jar. This girl was not selfish! And, she was strong of mind and body, as well, as the Book of Genesis tells us, beautiful. I like Rebekah. She is a woman of the prairie, if I may use that term, like my ancestors, those women who worked hard and were kind and generous with whatever material things they had. Rebekah reminds us that if we are doing our duty, working hard at what God has called us to do, we shall be rewarded by His Grace. Rebekah was given gold and a nose ring, the signs of redemption. We have that sign of redemption through Jesus Christ in baptism

Rebekah met Eliezer at the well, always a sign of life in the Scriptures, whether in the Old or New Testament. Christ is the Living Water and this story points to the fulfillment of love in the New Covenant.

Rebekah freely , with her own will served Eliezer and his camels, but also, freely, agreed to the marriage to Isaac. She was asked if she would marry him and if she would leave her family and go back with Eliezer to Isaac. She said "yes". This was one brave girl. But, I would like to think that she answered in love. Love surrounds this story, as does the Presence of God. Eliezer prayed for a sign and  as soon as he prayed, his answer came. He trusted in God. Rebekah, a woman of virtue, responded in love and care to Eliezer and his needs.

I want to emphasize that, unusually for the time, Rebekah was asked whether she wanted to be married to the unknown Isaac. She replied "yes" and her yes led to life and goodness. She was given a gold coin and a nose ring, as I noted above, the sign of a person being redeemed from slavery at the time. We are redeemed and the sign of our redemption is the indelible mark we receive at baptism. All this is in Chapter 24. Free will is so important in our relationship with God. He desires that we love Him freely.

Rebekah had free will and she answered yes to a new life. To respond in the affirmative to God brings new life to people around us as well as to ourselves.

Be brave and kind, and like Rebekah, concentric circles of love and goodness will reach out to others from your soul.

One more note, Rebekah and Eliezer met at the well, always a sign of life in the Bible. Water was necessary for life and Christ is the Living Water, as He told the Woman at the Well.

Meetings at wells signify new life and conversion. Again, we are reminded of our baptisms. Live, love, give life, that is our role as Catholic women in the world.