In today’s first reading, we hear God tell Isaiah, “for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” We gather each weekend in our church, a house of prayer, and as the song goes, all are welcome to pray to God in praise, in petition, and in thanksgiving. To expand on that, we might ask, “Who is welcomed to our town or to our country, and who is not?”
It appears contradictory for Jesus to say in our Gospel, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He was standing in the region of Tyre and Sidon, which was clearly outside of Judea. However, the Good Shepherd will not stop at boundaries to pursue his sheep. Therefore, this Canaanite woman feels free to challenge him to break down another boundary. Jesus refuses initially, but her persistence leads him to change, healing her daughter, sight unseen.
Faith is key but it may come from anyone, even far outside the community of believers. It is the faith of the Canaanite woman that convinces Jesus to answer her prayer. In Isaiah, it is the foreigners who come to God’s holy mountain with sacrifices and offerings. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, it is Gentiles whom Paul not only welcomes but hopes may spur Jewish people like Paul to accept Christ. Faith is to be encouraged in all peoples.
Without getting into a big argument about our country’s border policy, whom is the message of inclusion in today’s readings challenging us to look at differently? How can we be more accepting of others?
Love, Peace, Joy,