TWENTIETH SUNDAY A: HOMILY BY FR. MATTHIAS LUSEMBO
THEME: ALL PEOPLES ARE CHILDREN OF GOD OUR FATHER
Objective: That we get convinced that we are brothers and sisters in God’s family, whether, white, red, yellow, brown or black (cf. Col 3: 11); whether Catholic or Protestant, Moslem or Buddhist. Color, political, or religious boundaries should not mislead us from this fact. We should feel at home wherever we go on our Father’s earth or universe and share our Father’s riches. This is a fact which God revealed to the Jews gradually as we have heard in the readings.
Through Isaiah, God declares that His house is to be a house of prayer for all peoples (Is 56:7). There shall not be any more barriers between peoples: whatever their tribe, race or nation. They all share the same right to consider themselves members of God’s family, hence brothers and sisters. Isaiah predicts a day when foreigners honoring God and observing His commandments will be escorted to the temple of the Lord to offer their sacrifices and prayers. Nobody will ever feel a stranger in the house of God. The temple will be the place of prayer for all the peoples of the earth.
So, Psalm 67 prays: ““Let all the peoples praise you, O God; …For you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon the earth, so that your saving power may be known among all the nations.”
St. Paul adds that the Jewish rejection of Christianity opened the door to all gentiles to embrace Christianity (Rom 11: 15, 32).
In the Gospel text (Mt 15:21-28), Jesus answers the pagan Canaanite woman, who is begging for the healing of her daughter, that “it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs” (Mt 15:26), implying that it is God’s children that are supposed to be cured. Jesus is stating first the Hebrew belief that Canaanites are like dogs, because they do not know the law of God.
After showing us this wall between Hebrews and gentiles, Jesus tares it down and cures the Canaanite woman’s daughter who is not a Hebrew. By that Jesus reveals that pagans too are children of God, not dogs. This proves that the prophecy of Isaiah has come true: All peoples may benefit from the blessings that come from God’s house; what matters is faith in God, like the great faith of the Canaanite woman.
If all peoples would be convinced of this fact that we are all brothers and sisters in God our Father there would be less wars, if any; there would be less discrimination, if any; there would be less selfishness and protectionism, if any. Instead there would be more sharing of world resources so that no body lacks necessities. Unfortunately, we human beings sometimes prefer to protect our own interests, our own well-being, our own jobs, fearing to share painfully (Cf. Who of us would accept half salary for the sake of employing the jobless?). Once we are settled, we create political boundaries and terms like citizen, foreigner, and immigrant and we handle them in a way that can protect our security and economy.
At the moment, in my country Uganda, we have a serious land issue. The President wants to allocate unused land in southern Uganda to people from other parts of Uganda and beyond to boost economic growth. The people in the area are vehemently against the idea, although they themselves came from elsewhere and settled there. And many of them have so much land that they cannot use it all. This is a common attitude against migrants and immigrants in many countries.
When I examine history I find it difficult to get a person who is not an immigrant or at least a migrant. Examine your own history, at least, since the 15th century A.D.
In any case what matters is to realize that we are brothers and sisters in God our Father, expected to share God’s blessings, without discriminating against Canaanites whether, white, red, yellow, brown or black; whether Catholic or Protestant, Moslem or Buddhist. Each one should be well received and feel at home in God’s global family, so that we can rightly say the prayer “Our Father.”
In the Eucharist, Christ our Lord offers himself to save and feed anybody who believes in His sacrament, whether citizen or immigrant, whether white, red, or black. He does not discriminate against anybody. What matters is to have faith in him and do what he commands. Feeding on Jesus turns us into brothers and sisters like children who suck breasts of the same mother. Since we are His followers, let us be convinced that we are all brothers and sisters in God our Father forming one global family of God, meant to live in heaven together.