We often hear about the “universality” of the Church which transcends every variation of our common humanity. We take great comfort in the knowledge that the saving events in Christ Jesus are for all humanity in every time and place. Captured within this sense of universality is also a sense of “universalism” which can be most challenging for many of us. The Scriptures of this day challenge us to move beyond the boundaries of our minds and hearts and to embrace the gifts which God has given us in this irrevocable call.
The oracle found in the third portion of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (56:1-6) sees the chosen ones and the foreigners walking together to the mountain of the Lord and offering sacrifice as one. Without distinction, the house of the Lord is for all. Paul’s challenge to the Gentile Christians (Romans 11:13-15, 29-32) reminds them that the gifts and the call are irrevocable for the Jewish people even if there has been a temporary rejection. Thus, both those “chosen” by birth and those “chosen” by Baptism are meant to journey together in harmony. This may not always be the case if we consider, in our hearts, that some have either “given up their birth-right” or others are unworthy because they are “foreigners.”
No doubt the conversation between Jesus and the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15: 21-28) is difficult to hear. It leaves us all a bit uncomfortable to hear Jesus say, “It is not right to take the food of sons and daughters and throw it to the dogs.” It also leaves us breathless to hear her retort, “Please, Lord, even the dogs eat the leavings that fall from their master’s tables.” Jesus gave her what she needed. Jesus marveled at her faith. And so, we pray:
Almighty ever-living God, who bestowed your promises on Abraham and his descendants, graciously hear the prayer of your Church, that the people you first made your own may attain the fullness of redemption. And, You, who gather what was scattered and keep together what you have gathered, look kindly on the flock of your Son, that those whom one Baptism has consecrated may be joined together by integrity of faith and united in the bond of charity.
May the week ahead be filled with many blessings!