Leah and Rachel, the daughters of Laban, wives of Jacob, and the mothers of the 12 sons are two of my favorite women from the Old Testament. We know little about them, other than how Jacob came to be married to both of them and the children that they bore him. We are given very little about their life as Jacob's wives; more of the story is about Jacob and his sons then the sisters.
While I am sure there was rivalry at times between the sisters, it is important to remember the context. It was a much different time and culture; Jacob needed sons to continue his family and his family's traditions. Without both Leah and Rachel, God's great plan for a chosen people would not have been fulfilled. God and Jacob needed both of them. The sisters supported one another and their family together, enabling Jacob to become Israel and their sons to become the 12 tribes of Israel.
It can be so tempting to look at our sisters in Christ and find ourselves picking them (or ourselves) apart! We compare and critique to no end, finding flaws in ourselves as Rachel did, jealous of Leah's sons. We grow jealous as Leah probably did, envious of the relationship Rachel had with Jacob or the beauty that Rachel was blessed with. But we are called to be community, a family, despite our insecurities and jealousies. Just like Martha and Mary had their own roles to play in Jesus' community, Rachel and Leah had their own roles to play in Jacob's.
We learn from Rachel and Leah to push past those small, hurtful thoughts and build our sisters and communities up, rather than down. Leah did not raise her ten children alone, she had help. Rachel was not the only one who cooked for the entire tribe. They shared many tasks important to survival and prosperity. As tempting as it can be, we have to overcome our need to compare ourselves with our sisters. God created a unique way for each of us to prosper, but it is unlikely to like the exact plan created for the woman standing to the left or right of us. Leah and Rachel teach us to let go of our jealousies and inadequacies, and instead remain obedient to God.
Reflect on your community of women and the many gifts you all have! How often do you find yourself looking at another woman's family or talents with envy? How often do you catch yourself putting down another woman because she does not offer the same gifts you do? Let's intercede through Mary today, asking us to see the greater good and practice obedience to God's plan like Leah and Rachel by working towards the greater good of our community as they did.