Homily for August 14, XX Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle A year I
God wants all people to be saved, and He extends His love to people of every race, nation and tongue. Todays’ readings remind us that God’s self-revelation to all humankind is a free gift of God’s love. The salvation He gives us is a process that began with a chosen few, which expanded throughout the time of the Sacred Scriptures, and is still going on today.
When God revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He started to form a nation that would be His Chosen People. Their identity as the People whom God chose was further established by the Exodus from Egypt and their eventual entry into the Promised Land. In order to solidify their faith and keep them free from the pagan influences of other nations, God taught them to live as much as possible in isolation from the other surrounding populations. But that was not to last forever. Isaiah, in today’s first reading, prophesies about how people who are not Israelites will come to love and serve the Lord, and have the same faith and blessings as the Chosen People. The psalm prays that God will indeed bring all nations together to know and praise the Lord.
These prophecies and prayers come true in the New Testament. The Gospel gives us an example of a Gentile woman who shows a remarkable faith in Jesus, to the point that she obtains a miracle for her daughter. St Paul, in the letter to the Romans, describes how it was part of God’s plan that so many of the Jews rejected Jesus, in order that the Word of God be preached also to the Gentiles, the nations who had not been part of the Chosen People.
The history of the Church is, in great part, the history of the evangelization of nations around the world, bringing together people of all different ethnic and cultural backgrounds into the one Body of Christ. The Church welcomes anyone who is willing to embrace the full truth of the Gospel and strive to live the great commandment of love of God and neighbor. All the baptized are one in the Lord, no matter where we are from, and as Catholics we share the one true Faith handed down to us from the Apostles. I have experienced this often; as a member of a religious congregation, I have lived in several countries, including Spain, Italy, and Brazil, and wherever I have gone, I have experienced the joy of a shared faith and liturgy.
The unity-in-diversity of the Church is reflected in our own parish community, both in the parishioners and in the priests. Although I was born in Winchester, MA, I grew up in northeastern Connecticut (where my parents still reside), and I most recently lived in New York State for ten years, so I am not a native of this area. Nonetheless, I feel very much at home here. Although I’ve been here less than a week, everyone has welcomed me with open arms as a friend and new member of this community. I want to thank Fr John, Fr Ron, and all of you for this warm reception.
I have been told I will probably be assigned here for two to five years as I go through the process of joining the Archdiocese of Boston. Parish work is still new to me, because until last year, I was a seminary professor, teaching classes of philosophy – so I appreciate your patience and understanding as I continue to “learn the ropes” of parish ministry. I look forward to serving this community; I am here to accompany you all in your faith journey, and to offer you the sacraments, my prayers, my love and friendship, and anything else that my duties allow me to offer. I’m sure I can count on your prayers and support as well. Thank you again for your generous welcome, and God bless you!