Homily - Homily for The Solemnity of the Assumption 2020

16 August 2020 

Homily for XX Sunday Year A. 16-08-2020 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
Psalm: Psalm 66
Second Reading: Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
Gospel: Matthew 15:21-28
 
The readings of today draw our minds to the universality of the salvation wrought by Christ. They make a case for inclusion of all peoples, races and tribes into the call to the One Church, to One Kingdom, a kingdom that refuses to exclude all those who sincerely seek God.
Our first reading of today resounds the words of prophecy that the Lord revealed to Isaiah of the promise to bring even ‘foreigners’ to His holy mountain. He says, ‘Foreigners who have attached themselves to the Lord to serve Him and to love His name and be His servants – all who observe the Sabbath, not profaning it, and cling to my covenant – these I will bring to my holy mountain. I will make them joyful in my house of prayer.’ This prophecy is concretely fulfilled by Christ in the gospel where He heals the daughter of the Canaanite woman, a non-Jew considered an outcast and a foreigner. He had just finished teaching the people and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon, a non-Jewish territory that is fifty miles north of Israel which is in present day Lebanon. This was where He encountered this woman who is remarkable for her extraordinary faith.
The disciples first beckoned on Him to answer her so that they can have their peace, but Christ responded that He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. With this response, Christ put her faith to the test but instead it grew producing not just the fruits of loving trust in God but also wisdom, humility, persistence and patience. Her great faith recognized that Christ was God, and she approached Him whole heartedly with complete trust. All the rebuff being called a dog which was a derogatory way Jews referred to the Gentiles and much worse Canaanites because of their idol worship, did not put her off. She remained determined to get what she wanted from Christ – the healing of her daughter. She never offered any defense against being called a dog, but even came kneeling at the feet of Christ to repeat her humble request. From that moment Christ answered her and the evangelist tells us that her daughter was well again. This happened because of her great faith, the faith with which we must also learn to pray persistently even when it seems that our prayers are not heard. Christ teaches us by this singular act that ‘indeed this salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it. (Acts 28:28).’ And this is the truth that St. Paul recounts in the second reading reminding the pagans how proud he is to be the apostle God chose to send to the pagans. This also sets the template for the resolution of the first controversy that arose in the early Church concerning whether or not to include non-Jews into the new Church founded by Christ (Cf. Acts 15:1-21).
Today we live in a world that has made giant strides in communication technology which connects us with others 24 hours, but we are daily becoming more and more divided along the lines of tribe, race, colour, religion, and nationality. We have a modern culture that is more interested in building walls that divide and separate the haves from the have nots, rather than build bridges that lovingly connect us to one another. We feel we are right all the time in what we believe and hold to be true while others are wrong except when they accept what we believe and uphold. The teaching of Christ today should make us stop and think for a moment about our own lives as individuals, as a family, as a parish, as a Church, as a nation, and as members of the global human family.  As a Christian and Catholic what will non-Catholic Christians and peoples of other faiths make of our worship and the life we live?  How far do we offer a welcome to strangers, those who are not our tribe, our race, our religion and nationality, giving them space to come alongside us, to hear the teachings of Jesus and to observe our ceremonies? We should guard against giving the impression that we are an exclusive club from which non-members really ought to be barred. Remember, Christ went to minister outside His Jewish territory to bring the good news to those whom society had ostracized.
We are privileged as Catholics to belong to the Church founded by Christ Himself, but it is our corresponding duty to teach the world the truth found in the will of God. The world and our country needs to experience in the Catholic Church that prophetic sign that diverse peoples can become one unified person in love. We have to be that sign for the world and our country, for our people that our strength comes from the bond of love that does not accept any form of discrimination and exclusion of any peoples. The world needs to witness our living out what we proclaim with our Creed: We are One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. So we are not just Americans or Australians or Asians or Africans or Europeans or Latin Americans, but we now have a higher identity as Children of God united in the profession of the one faith in one God by the bond of love. And it is by this grace that we can call God ‘Abba Father (Rom 8:15).’ With this we can reach out to all peoples without boundaries of tribe, race, colour, religion or nationality, because all people belong here.
May God give us the grace to rise above our biases and prejudices towards other peoples, and be able to accept all and reach out to all in the name and love of the one God we serve. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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