Today’s reading tells us of the fulfillment of this courtship, but the story continues in the hearts of lovers. It is the story of God’s call and the human heart.
An essential aspect of this love forms the basis of all healthy love. Rebekah is given the right to choose her response. Abraham had allowed for the possibility of her refusal (v. 8). In the cultures at that time and in centuries to come, it is entirely the right of father or guardian to decide about marriage. But Rebekah’s parents give her the free choice: “They called to Rebekah, and said to her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ She said, ‘I will.’ ”
The freedom to choose is the cornerstone of how God relates to us. God has renounced force over us. Otherwise our consent would be without meaning. We are invited to bonding, not bondage. Love that compels is not love. It is violation.
Jesus, who carries God’s heart into all his encounters, never forces consent. When the rich young man turns away from discipleship, Jesus grieves but does not pursue him demanding consent. (See Matthew 19:16-22.)
How tragic that through the centuries most branches of the Christian church have violated this spiritual freedom. We have enforced submission, through intense group pressure, fear, guilt, shame, shunning, and sometimes even threat of death. When making any commitment and within ongoing commitments, we can ask ourselves, Am I given freedom to choose my responses?
During the Last Supper, Jesus gives the releasing words of love to his disciples: “I do not call you servants . . . I have called you friends” (John 15:15).
Heart of God, may my choices this day rise not from compulsion but from love set free. Amen.
The reading in Genesis transitions our attention from Abraham to his son Isaac. When Isaac comes of age, Abraham sends a servant to find a wife for him. When the servant meets Rebekah, her kind hospitality convinces him that she is the one. Isaac marries her, and the readings in the psalm and Song of Solomon celebrate nuptial love as a symbol of God’s love. Paul in Romans reflects on the human condition. We desire to do what is right, but we fall short over and over again. What is the solution? God delivers us through Jesus Christ. In Matthew, Jesus emphasizes his intimate relationship with God and invites all who are weary to enter into Christ’s rest.
Read Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67. Which of these or other biblical stories model for you the relationship between God and humanity?
Read Song of Solomon 2:8-13. How have you seen God at work in the way loving relationships have transformed you?
Read Romans 7:15-25a. When have you refused to participate in Communion because you did not feel worthy? How might participating in Communion in times of strife or sin help you be reconciled to God and others?
Read Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30. The life of faith holds many ironies. How do you hold together the seeming opposites of Jesus’ and John’s focus in their ministries? of seeking to be yoked to God when your burden is too heavy?
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