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20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – Homily

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
Matthew 15:21-28
August 17, 2014

Jesus finds time to withdraw to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  One might expect this to be a place where Jesus might find some rest.  He has been ministering to the Jews and is widely known about them but Tyre and Sidon are Gentile regions.

So Jesus may have gone there looking for some rest but he is recognized by a Canaanite woman.  She is not a Jew yet she comes to Jesus in faith.  She comes to Jesus in need for her daughter.  She even calls him Son of David indicating a faith not found in some of the Jews.

At first Jesus ignores her.  It’s what any self-respecting Jew would have done in those days.  The Jews saw themselves as a chosen people with an elite status.

The woman persists and Jesus replies that he was sent to the lost sheep of Israel so he is not there to help her.  She persists in her request and Jesus heals her daughter.

Jesus’ ministry in the gospel focuses on the Jews but is not exclusive to them.  After Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection, the disciples go out to the Gentiles.

However, God’s offer of salvation to the Gentiles did not start when the disciples went out or with Jesus’ own help for the Gentiles.  God’s offer of salvation has always been available to all

For instance, 600 years before the birth of Jesus, today we hear Isaiah speak, “the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord.”  The foreigners were not Jews.  They grew believing in other (false) gods.  While the Israelites saw themselves as elite, God says his salvation is open to all who love the Lord and keep the Sabbath holy.

God’s love is open to all but not all are aware of God’s love.  When we see people who do not believe in God, we should be moved with compassion for them.  That compassion includes being aware of their needs and doing what we can to help them.

One way we do this as a Church is through Catholic Charities.  Catholic Charities exists to respond to our mission to help those in need but it is not just Catholics they help.  Catholic Charities doesn’t exist to make people become Catholic.  Catholic Charities exists to show people that they are loved by us and by God.

To understand Catholic Charities is not just to know what they do.  We must know why they do it, love and mission.

For me this idea of mission is important.  I serve on the Board of Directors for Catholic Charities locally because I believe in the mission.

When I give my own money to charities, this sense of mission is very important to me.  Most of the money I give is to Catholic groups but in no way simply because they are Catholic or any idea on my part to help just Catholics.  I give to Catholic agencies because I know they do not help just Catholics but respond to anyone in need that they are able to.

The reason I choose to give to Catholic agencies is the mission and values.  When I give to Catholic agencies, I know they will not use it for things that go against my beliefs.  My beliefs are very important to me.  An important part of our belief is that God’s salvation is open to all.  What do you do to help others know of God’s saving love?

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