Homily for August 3, Wednesday of the XVIII week of Ordinary Time
We cannot judge anyone’s faith or goodness of heart by their ethnicity, nationality, or even, at times, by their religion. That might sound like a radical statement, but it’s a logical conclusion we can draw from today’s readings.
In the first reading, by God’s command, Moses sent a group of men to explore the land of Canaan that God promised to give them. They liked the land itself, but were afraid that they would not be able to conquer the inhabitants, despite God’s promise. Their lack of faith led them to exaggerate the dangers of trying to settle there, and even to contradict themselves in their eagerness to discourage their people from doing God’s will. First they said that the land was flowing with milk and honey, and that the inhabitants were strong, fierce and gigantic. Then, they turned around and said that the land “consumes its inhabitants”. The men responsible for these contradictory lies, who distrusted God and disobeyed His plan, were princes selected from the cream of the crop of God’s own chosen people. The Lord punished them appropriately for their disgraceful behavior.
The Gospel reading shows us a woman from Canaan, who was not an Israelite, and hence not part of the Chosen People of God. She seems to have known something of the Jewish faith, because she called Jesus the “Son of David”, and she came to Christ asking for a miracle. Nevertheless, his disciples treated her with disdain, as was the practice for Jews dealing with Gentiles. The Lord tested her faith by apparently refusing to grant her petition, but she persisted. Finally, Jesus not only granted her the miracle, but gave her words of high praise: “O woman, great is your faith!” Compare that to his words to Peter that we heard just a few days ago: “O you of little faith!”
Good and bad people are to be found everywhere. We cannot judge by the circumstances of their lives, whether it be their sex, national origin or religious beliefs. It is important to respect people of other Christian denominations, and those of other faiths as well. However, this fact should also motivate us all the more to share the gift of our true Catholic faith, so that others can receive the full strength and light of God’s grace which is not found anywhere else. True love for all people requires our spiritual and material support for the missions and for ecumenism. May God grant that someday we may all be one in the Church, which is His Body, to the glory of God the Father.