20th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Unity in Our Broken World
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7 – Romans 11:13-15, 29-32 – Matthew 15: 21-28
A little girl asked her mother, “Mom, where did the human race come from?” The mother answered, “God created Adam and Eve and they had children. That was how the human race came into being.” The next day the girl asked her dad the same question. The father answered, “Millions of years ago there were monkeys. They gradually evolved into humans.” The girl was confused. So she went back to her mother and asked, “Mom, which is true? You said the human race was created by God, but Dad said we evolved from monkeys?” The mother answered, “Well, my dear, it’s very simple. I told you about my side of the family and your father told you about his.”
Let’s take a good look at our scripture readings today and relate them to what is happening in our word right now. There is massive division all across this country and across the world. Riots are disrupting the everyday lives of good citizens. Businesses are looted and burned during “peaceful protests.” Dissenters are beaten. There is no tolerance for an opposing view.
Human beings are social creatures by nature. We need others around us to form a society that works toward the good of all. This is what the Canaanite woman was pressing Jesus on when she was asking for help. Think about this for a minute. Canaanites were enemies of the Jewish people. So why would this woman approach Jesus for a favor? She was a woman and women didn’t speak to men in public and the favor she sought was for her daughter, not a son. This woman was breaking all sorts of social norms of the day to show her faith in Jesus to heal, but also to show that all people deserve to be recognized and to be part of the Church and society.
I had a friend ask the question at a prayer group meeting once saying: “did Jesus just call her a dog?” By what is happening around us today, there are those in society who are doing just that. They are referring to those who are “different” as dogs, subhuman in many respects. Jesus was making a point that he was called to help the chosen people, yet this woman calls him out when she tells him that even the dogs eat the scraps from the master’s table. Inclusiveness is what she is talking about. Just because I’m different, have a different view, come from a different community, does not mean that I am any different from you.
Isaiah tells us at the end of the first reading that those who keep the covenant and uphold the Sabbath will be welcome in the Lord’s house, “for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.” Inclusiveness. The prophet is admonishing the people to accept all people.
St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, is using peer pressure to get the Jewish people to convert. By going to the gentiles and offering them the mercy of God, he is showing his Jewish brothers and sisters that God will forgive anyone who repents. We as Catholic Christians can effect change by what we do and how we act toward others. Setting an example, especially among our peers, might change their mindset, might get them to accept that people have different views on hot topics, and that that is OK. This does not mean that, however, that we need to rollover and accept everything they say or do. Just as St. Paul called out his Jewish brother and sisters to make a change in their lives, we also are called to right wrongs and effect change in society, but in a peaceful manner. Not destroying businesses or neighborhoods or threatening people with harm if they don’t comply.
The un-named Canaanite woman was persistent with Jesus and eventually won him over to include her in his healing ministry. She pressed Jesus to be inclusive and reach out to others in the community. She is the example of peaceful persistence accomplishing a social change. We need to look at her as an example of how to peacefully move others to be inclusive, to come together for the common good of all people, and I mean all people.
We just celebrated the feast of St. Mary of the Assumption, the patroness of our parish. Many of our parishioners have been praying the rosary asking Mary to intercede in bringing a pastor to our parish who can heal the wounds inflicted upon us over the last couple of years. The rosary has been described as a weapon against evil and history has proved that to be true. Now is the time for us to go back to our rosaries and ask Mary to help us, as the silent majority, to protect our country and world from those who are out to destroy society by divisiveness. We need to pray the rosary asking Mary to heal the communities torn apart by violence. We need to pray the rosary to ask Mary to bring all people back to church, back to the Lord’s house, a house of prayer for all people. We need to ask Mary to intercede for us here at St. Mary’s to heal our wounds and send us a pastor who will reinvigorate this parish spiritually, emotionally and financially, a parish welcoming to all people.
So let us all pray, Hail Mary, …..
May the peace of Christ keep you safe. Amen.