Fr. Francis Scaria
Two grave sins are seen in the short episode mentioned in Gen 25:29-34 – the sins of two brothers, Esau and Jacob. They are in fact twins. Esau, the firstborn, sold his birthright to his younger brother Jacob just for a bowl of stew.
Being the firstborn was a channel of grace established by God. Esau did not value this channel of grace. The Word of God says, “See to it that no one becomes like Esau, an immoral and godless person, who sold his birthright for a single meal”(Heb 12:16). When we disregard the channels of grace established by God, the flow of grace stops. That is why the Word further says, “You know that later he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, even though he sought the blessing with tears” (Heb 12:17)
Another sin of Esau was gluttony, inordinate desire for food. He says, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” (Gen:25:32) Not that Esau was going to die, but was experiencing the compulsion of his excessive desire for food. St. Paul considers this as a serious sin. He says, “For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly, and their glory is in their shame.” (Phil 3:18-19)
Jacob too committed two sins: cheating and exploitation. Cheating is procuring what you have no right for or procuring something legitimate but in a wrong way. Jacob knew the rights of the firstborn belonged to his brother Esau. Yet he tried to somehow covet this. Besides he committed the sin of exploitation of the weak. He took advantage of the pathetic and vulnerable condition of his hungry brother and instead of feeding him straightaway, he tried to take advantage of the situation. When his brother was in need, he turned the situation into a business of gain for himself. Tempting him with a bowl of stew he bargained for his birthright. Our society is full of people who finding the neighbour in poverty bargain for favours in return for any relief granted. They are even deprived of their basic rights for a dignified life and proper sustenance. The stories of many who are involved in prostitution, child-labour and terrorism would vouch this fact. At least sometimes when a woman is poor and hungry, the greedy and lustful society attracts her to prostitution. Forcing hungry children to work even in hazardous circumstances is not a rare instance in our society. There are people who are forced to sell even vital organs of their body because of abject poverty. There are many Esaus and Jacobs in our times. We ourselves may have played these roles some time in life. Can you hear the bell ringing?
MUSINGS : 1-25,