20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 56: 1, 6-7 “The foreigners . . . I will bring to my holy mountain” Psalm 67: “O God, all the nations shall praise you.” Romans 11: 13-15; 29-32: “For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” Matthew 15: 21-28: And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!”
I have a dream that from infancy through toddlerhood, preschool and beyond, in homes throughout the world, every child will be welcomed into a loving home. I dream that each child will not only have bodily nourishment, love and care but grow up conscious of a great Being, the source of all life and all goodness. I dream that each child will come to know the Creator God and be assured of God’s deep love for humanity and all creation. I would want them to know, that no matter their family’s religion or philosophical point of view, that there is great joy in store for all who seek to know and understand God–the source of love and goodness, forgiveness and truth. And that even those who may not believe in God, they, too, come to know that there is such a thing as love, forgiveness, goodness and truth.
I hope that as they grow and learn and experience human failures, and learn of the tragic histories of war and violence, recognizing that even people of faith have used their religion or philosophies to tear the world apart, to harm people that were not like themselves, that they can appreciate and discern that TRUE RELIGION will always bring people together. Because TRUE religion insists that all are children of God.
My dream for Christian children, be they Catholic or Orthodox or Protestant, is that they realize that their Baptisms initiated them into Christ, and that faith in Jesus gives us a unique role to play in participating in God’s Spirit, highlighting the good, the true and the beautiful in others not like ourselves. Christianity offers great wisdom that acknowledges the fears that lead to sin, fears that prevent us from seeing the good in ourselves and others. Our faith in Jesus insists that we follow Jesus as the One who “did not come to condemn the world,” but to set it free from its compulsions, its greed and prejudices.
Today’s Gospel shows Jesus’ interactions with a Canaanite Woman, a woman not of His Own Faith, but, still a person whom Jesus insisted –after evidencing his own unique sense of humor, wit and playfulness by dismissing her to confront his own disciples’ prejudices–that everyone deserves healing, because that is what God does: Heals, be it physical, emotional or spiritual healing. And by offering the healing that each in his or her own way need, God offers HOPE, instilling Hope in every Human heart. And so, Jesus attends to the pagan Canaanite woman’s hope for her daughter, recognizing everyone is called to hope for their sons and daughters. Blessed are the ones who know that! Blessed are those who accept Hope in their hearts and refuse to default to anger, fear or selfishness. Blessed are those who see that the purpose of TRUE religion or true humanism is meant to cultivate Hope in all peoples, in all situations.
My dream is not my dream, really. It is the Biblical Dream. The recorded dreams and inspirations of Moses, Isaiah, Micah, and Jesus Himself that all may come to know God and with God and through God, to embrace THE GOLDEN RULE–DO UNTO OTHERS AS WE WOULD LIKE OTHERS TO DO TO US. For God made the world filled with diversity, and invites us to trust in that diversity, to find hope in that diversity, too.
Throughout His life, Christ engaged in discourse with people who thought differently than He thought, who lived differently than He lived. He grew up in a world of Roman occupation without hating the Romans (although he could be critical of them). He grew up in the world of Judaism and although he acknowledged the people’s sins, He loved them all.
May our prayers and Eucharist today empower us to strive to uncover the Hope beyond human failures, beyond humanity’s penchant for blame, beyond everybody’s susceptibility to hate, to prejudice and the illusions of comfort they offer at others’ expense. Christ Jesus came to serve and save, not condemn nor destroy. His dream must become our dream—for only when our dreams are aligned with His can this Eucharist produce the effects for which it was intended from the beginning. As the Word and Eucharist offer Hope to us, healing to us, may it empower us to offer hope to our world.