Thursday, August 11, 2011

Twentieth Sunday of the Year A: Reflection- Fr .Michael U. Udoekpo

Twentieth Sunday of Year A: Reflections – Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Isaiah 56:1,6-7; Ps 67:2-3,5-6 and 8; Rom 11: 13-15, 29-32 and Matt 15:21-28

Faith which includes and redeems

The Bible readings of today remind us that faith, inclusiveness, obedience to God, openness, mercy, forgiveness of one another, and social justice are all marks of redeemed Christian community, long foretold by the Prophets

 Deutero – Isaiah in the first reading, reminds the restored post-exilic community of the injustices and disobedience to God’s mandates that had brought Israel to ruin and exile. When God planted Israel as a vineyard, he expected justice but found bloodshed. He expected righteousness but heard a cry? (Isa 5:7).  In every generations God has the same demands of us: justice, acceptance of everybody, “all nations” (Ps 67) to God’s House. It has to be a house of prayer and thanksgiving for all peoples, Jews and Gentiles (Isa 56:7), masters and servants, foreigners and natives.

This invitation to openness is evident in Jesus’ openness to the Canaanite woman. She is a woman of great faith, as presented in today’s Gospel (Matt15:21-28). While Jesus  remains a model of priests and pastors opened to people of all walks of life.

We know Canaanites were traditional enemies of the Jews, but we must be moved by the disarming courage, perseverance and humility of a Canaanite asking favor  and help from a Jewish- Jesus. Besides courage, she is vested with the knowledge of our merciful and universal Jesus. In faith, she crosses the boundaries. She calls Jesus “Son of David” (Matt 12:22). She refuses to be rejected, to be intimidated until she heard, Jesus said, “Let it be done for you as you wish” (Matt 15:29). The mercy she wished  was done for her. Her daughter became healed, instantly due to her faith and persistency in prayer, by a Jesus who loves  beyond boundaries.  In imitating Jesus we are invited to cross bounderies  of division, hatred and embrace unity and peace.

Same point is made by Paul who crossed all bounderies to bring Christ to all. He says, in Roman 11: 30-32; “Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.”

All of us are called to be merciful missionaries to all we meet on the way,the poor, the rich,   the weak and the strong, men and woman, children and adult after the examples of Christ.  In preaching and ministering the faith, pastors and clergy (clergy to be) are recently invited once again by the  Congregation for the Clergy, to cross bounderies of selfishness and  identify themselves with today's Matthean Christ, and with the missioanry mission of the Church.  Beginning with ourselves to families and communities, we  are encouraged  to bring the values of Christ to people of all cultures of all places,  States and  times (The Missionary Identity of the Priest in the Church, 2011), without discriminations.

For those who suffer injustices, disrepect, rejections, discriminations, long illnesses and effects of narrow-mindedness of any kind, out there, in our complex society of today, may they be inspired by the Bible lessons of  of today , especially by the  shared faith of the boundery -crossing- Canaanite woman and by the inclusive examples of   Christ- Jesus, who is relentlessly in dialogue with  peoploe of all  cultures and  nations. This is the Christian faith, that accepts and redeems all.