Homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Theme: One Family of Faith
By: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
Homily for Sunday August 16 2020
God is the Father of us all and His wish is that all of His children should come together as one family of faith, hope and love, irrespective of colour, race, tribe and language; and that all should be saved. Sometimes, the reality of dissension, division and visible inhumanity towards one another makes this desire of God to seem unrealistic and impossible for human beings. In Christ, however, God reminds us that we are called to be one, and that we can form one family, and that our true and real nature is to build and never to destroy. May we respond positively to God’s invitation as to make this desire of His realised in us; Amen.
The unreasonable tendency to exclude others from sharing in the best of gifts was heavily manifest also in the chosen people of God. The honour and prestige they gratuitously received from God, of being the chosen people, were used as means to classify others as damned and to segregate from their brothers and sisters of other genealogical and racial descent. The prophecy in the First Reading of today (Isaiah 56:1, 6-7) was a bombshell and a complete paradigm shift from how the chosen people of God saw themselves and from what they wrongly considered to be the lot of those who do not share in their biological and territorial confines; “their holocausts and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar, for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” God’s love has no boundaries or confines! Likewise, Salvation is open to all. God neither discriminates nor is He partial in His relationship with us. We are the ones who discriminate against God by opposing His universal plan of Salvation and by disconnecting ourselves from Him. This He made clear through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah and made visible in the life and mission of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ; our Lord and Saviour. Faith in Christ Jesus, the Son of David, opens up to us the promises of God and His plan for each and every one of us. Faith also brings us to share in these promises and to dispose ourselves for salvation; the type of faith expressed by the Canaanite woman of the Gospel of today.
On the one hand, the scene of today’s Gospel was the best place to make this message clear. Being gentile territories, Tyre and Sidon could be considered part of the region of those who do not know God. On the other hand, the rhetoric in the Gospel of today was Christ’s unique way of stating, first and foremost, what was obtainable in the past; a mental disposition that was both ungodly and inhuman; discriminatory and destructive; devoid of love and breeds hatred and disunity. And then secondly, to affirm what is actually God’s wish for all; namely, that God is accessible to all peoples, that God wills all men and women to be saved and that there is no barrier between us and God apart from that which sins creates. We in turn achieve these by God’s grace through putting our faith in action. Faith is never dormant or inactive. Rather, faith is both alive and proactive. This was the type of faith exercised by the Canaanite woman of the Gospel Reading of today (Mt 15:21-28). Her faith opened her entire being and household to hear those eternal words from the Lord; “woman, you have great faith. Let your wish be granted.” Faith has a unique way of opening our minds to see beyond the ordinary and to transcend the prisons and barriers human systems build around us. The faith that propels us to cry out like the woman of today, “Son of David, take pity on me.” The faith that opens our heart to recognise, as Saint Paul rightly wrote in the Second Reading (Romans 11:13-15, 29-32), that “God has imprisoned all men in their own disobedience only to show mercy to all mankind.” The faith that humbles us to key into God’s omniscience and to dissolve our limitations and particularities in His universality. The faith that makes us conscious of God’s invitation because God is constantly inviting us to openness of mind and heart. We foster and promote segregation and disunity when we close our minds and hearts to God and align ourselves to human set confines. The confines that are fundamental, essential and matter the most are divinely placed confines that exclude sin. These types of confines are both restricted and universal; restricted because they exclude all forms of defect and universal because they are open to all.
Heavenly Father, by the merits of Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit, make us always conscious of our common origin and ultimate destination, and by our sincere living and practice of the faith, may we gain that eternal salvation which You graciously desire for all; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE