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Back The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sunday, August 16, 2020
From the Desk of Fr. Ron…….
A unique human trait is the desire to belong. We observe this in adolescent growth as youth seek to identify with different groups of friends. The fear is always that of rejection; of not belonging.
The history of the Hebrew people was one understood as being a people chosen by God as special to Him. One can imagine the pride that filled many young people’s hearts as they grew up realizing that they were born into part of a unique group, the chosen people. What does that mean for people who are not born into that culture? Is there room enough for others to be somehow adopted into or to become one of the “chosen?”
In the first lesson from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, the prophet gives a startling message. God, through Isaiah, proclaims that even “foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,” keeping the law of God through Moses, offering their own sacrifices etc. will be acceptable to God. The vision is open and wide: “for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7).
Jesus, being born into the “chosen people” and schooled in its history and expectations, understood that the focus of the coming of the Messiah was to bring back the lost sheep of the House of Israel. That then assists us in understanding the rather harsh response that Jesus gives to the gentile woman who requests assistance for her daughter possessed by a demon: “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” (Matthew 15:26).
Her humble response, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Matthew 15:27), moves Him to widen the net of salvation beyond the lost sheep of Israel to the lost sheep of all the nations. This exception, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, which was written with a focus of Jewish people coming to faith in Jesus as the Messiah, opens the door of possibility that Jesus is the one who will not only save the “Chosen People,” but people from every nation and tongue.
An application of this teaching may be applied to how we view fellow parishioners, as well as guests within our church. Are we part of the “in crowd” of saved people? Are we members of the new “chosen people” of God’s Kingdom? Or, are we fellow sinners who continue to humble ourselves before Jesus realizing that we do not deserve to be called God’s daughters and sons? If we believe that we are part of the “in crowd,” we may be tempted to judge others and compare them to ourselves. A recent post on social media showed a young man fully tattooed face and all, looking downcast. The inscription read: “I would try to go to church, but if Jesus is anything like His followers, I don’t stand a chance.” Being a student of Jesus, a disciple, means that we are never worthy of God’s attention, but Jesus gives us that attention anyway. Jesus includes us, sinners through we are, into the peace and mercy of God’s Kingdom. We should rejoice that many others seek that same attention from God and embrace each other as we strive to walk along the way of God’s kingdom.
VACATION TIME Fr. Ron will be out of the parish office from Monday - Friday, August 17th - 21st for a period of rest and vacation.