Isaiah: my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
Psalm 67: O God, let all the nations praise you.
Romans: St. Paul is sent to the Gentiles.
Matthew: To the ‘foreigner,’ Jesus says: “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
Jesus, though at first glance, seems harsh and unresponsive to the Canaanite woman, is actually busy in his role as Teacher and as Savior of the nations. His silence in the face of the Canaanite woman’s request is meant to elicit faith from her. Is she there simply because she has heard of this man Jesus and the miracles he performs, and wants him to perform a healing for her daughter? Or is she there because she, too, has come to believe in him as the Son of God?
Likewise, Jesus is also in this moment teaching his disciples about the universal nature of his ministry. By granting this Canaanite woman her request, Jesus signals that faith in him is not limited to Israel; God’s mercy and love extends to all people. Thus, they will eventually be sent to all nations to proclaim the Good News and to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
How do today’s readings apply to us?
Christ put his life at the service of the Father’s will, and came into the world as the Bread of Life, that all who come to believe him might live. St. Paul put his life at Christ’s disposal, and was sent to the Gentiles. The Disciples put their life at Christ’s disposal, and were sent to all the nations to proclaim the Good News. Do we see the implication in these statements for us?
We, too, are to grow in faith in Jesus Christ.
We, too, are sent in the name and love of Jesus to others.
How many of us, like the Canaanite woman, have come to Christ? Have we come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? Have we been brought into the life of Christ through the sacraments of the Church?
Now to the heart of the matter: What are we doing with this Life Christ has shared with us? Has our ‘vision’ of this Life been corrupted by today’s hyper individualism and consumerism in that we see this Life as ‘just for me?’ Do I live this Life in Christ only when it is convenient, or across the spectrum of every moment and aspect of my life? In short, is the Life of Christ something passively at work in me, or have I given my life completely over to Christ?, as Christ gave his to the Father and the apostles gave their life to Christ?
Has my heart become hard and cold to the presence of Christ within me, so that this Font of Life which is Christ has become like a frozen water pipe which no longer flows? Or, have I freely given adherence to Christ and his truth that this Font of Life breaks forth from me so that I am a life-giving stream to those around me?
What does adherence to Christ look like?
The Prophet Isaiah today tells us: we join ourselves to the Lord, we minister to Christ, we love the name of Jesus, we are servants of Christ and his Church, we remain faithful to the new and eternal covenant Christ created by pouring out His blood.
The Prophet Ezekiel tells us to adhere to Christ is to live a life of virtue:
- one who does what is right and just
- who does not raise his eyes to other gods or idols or place false hope in worldly things
- who is faithful to God and faithful to one’s spouse and family, faithful to one’s promises
- who is just in business affairs – who oppresses no one and takes not from another
- who gives food to the hungry and clothes the naked
- who refrains from every form of evil and conducts his or her affairs with honor
- who lives by God’s ways – God’s commandments (see Ezekiel 18)
Such a person is just, is virtuous, and lives a life pleasing to God; a life that shares in the fullness of life Jesus promises to those who believe and trust in Him.
Is my faith in Christ like the mustard seed growing in the life of others, giving shelter to all? Is my life like the yeast mixed into a batch of dough that extends the Life of Christ and the Kingdom of God to my family and friends, co-workers and neighbors?
The fundamental answer to these questions boils down to love. If we love, then we are another Christ. When we love, Christ is a part of everything that we do. When we love Jesus, we experience a deep communion with God. When we keep the great commandment to love God with all our hearts and our neighbor as our self, then our love extends the communion we experience with God to others. When we love, our love creates unity among others; a unity that overcomes all fears and divisions. When we love, our life expands beyond our self and extends the love of Jesus to others. (See A New Way, p. 76, Chiara Lubich)
The Opening Prayer in Mass this morning speaks to this reality of love:
“O God, who have prepared for those who love you good things which no eye can see, fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love, so that, loving you in all things and above all things, we may attain your promises, which surpass every human desire.”
We are all sons and daughters of one God, which means we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. May our life in Christ lead us to deeper union with God, greater friendship with Christ, thus enabling us to be agents for healing divisions and building unity, communion, wholeness. In short, let us give our lives completely to Christ, that He may send us in His name to further God’s Kingdom on earth.