A HOMILY FOR THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “A” – 8/15/2020 SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
A few years ago, some friends and I went out to eat, and we were looking to try a new restaurant, one where none of us had ever eaten before, and we were in downtown Chicago, so it wouldn’t be too difficult. So we walk around for a while, and we find this place that a lot of people going in. Must be popular, right? And there’s this great smell coming from the kitchen. One of the folks with us, googles the name of the restaurant, and just as we thought, it’s got high reviews. So we all agree. Let’s eat here! We go in the main entrance, and right away, I notice something different. Everybody is really dressed up. This is clearly NOT your typical Chicago tourist place. Within seconds, the maitre d’ of the restaurant comes charging over to us, and informs us this restaurant, is a PRIVATE supper club. And that they are not open to the public. And that we would have to leave immediately. And it was the way that he said that, “not open to the “pubbbb-lick”, that just made you feel awful. It made you feel embarrassed. It made you feel like you didn’t belong. Very quickly, then, my friends and I left, before we got any more humiliated. And I’m sure that we found a deep-dish Chicago pizza place very soon after, that was open to the “pubbbb-lick”. But what I remember most about that experience at that private supper club in Chicago, was the feeling that my friends and I didn’t belong there. We were outsiders. We weren’t good enough. We weren’t dressed well enough. And in the end we had to leave.
The story of the Canaanite woman in St. Matthew’s Gospel brought back a lot of memories of my experience at the private supper club in Chicago. This Canaanite woman walks us to Jesus and His followers, and she already knows that she is an outsider. She doesn’t have to be told. They don’t have to put a sign up. The relationship between the Canaanite people and the Jewish people was extremely clear at that time and well known to both sides. This woman would have grown up knowing that she should stay away from Jewish people. She’s an outsider. She doesn’t belong. And she knows her place. She also knows that her daughter needs help. And there’s something somewhere inside of her, that tells her that this Jesus, this Jewish man, that she has been taught her whole life to despise, is the one that can help her and her daughter.
So the woman who is an outsider, and shouldn’t be talking to these Jewish men, works up the courage, to go up to Jesus and the Apostles, and asks for help. Now, I gotta believe that Jesus knows exactly what’s going to happen here, because He seems downright cruel here. He ignores her. The Apostles, trying to protect Jesus from compulsive people, ask Jesus to send here away. When the woman persists in her request, finally even Jesus gives in to the separatists thinking of the day, and tries to send her away. But the woman perseveres. She doesn’t give up. Even when Jesus talks about throwing away good things to the dogs, the woman is insulted. She wants her daughter healed and saved. She already knows that she is an outsider. And she’s willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how humiliating it may be, if it saves her little girl.
These readings this weekend are rich with great lessons. Probably the most obvious one is that this Canaanite woman certainly knows how to persevere in her prayer. And that’s important. We all can be better at persevering in prayer. And maybe, sometimes we can all feel like an “outsider” with God. We need to know that God hears everyone’s prayers! Every prayer that we pray, gets God’s attention. Of course, this is another great reason to stop taking the name of the Lord in vain. We keep calling out God’s name in vain, or worse, as a swear word, and He is going to think that you’re praying. Can you imagine how upset God is going to be if you keep calling out His name, and you don’t really mean it? Stop that.
But the bigger lesson from all three of our reading today is that the care and love of God really are meant for all people. Not just Jewish people. Not just Catholic people. Not just Canaanite people. Not just Christian people. God loves ALL His creatures. And He wants us to love one another. We’re not picking sides or teams here. With God, and with His Kingdom, there’s no insiders and outsiders. Everybody is invited. It’s not like a private supper club, that isn’t open to the “pubbbbb-lick”. God’s love and mercy are there for all of us. We’ve got to see that. And we’ve got to take that message out to as many as we possibly can. Because if our world doesn’t know that, then they can still feel like outsiders. And Jesus came very specifically to make sure that nobody feels like an ‘outsider’ any more!
The reality is, that the Kingdom of God is ALL inclusive. Everything that Jesus does and stands for is for all of us. Then Jesus’ Church also has to work at being more inclusive. Everybody is invited to the Church. Let’s remember that this week in our lives.
+ May God bless us this week, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!