Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28
My homily, recorded at the 5:00 Mass at Our Lady of Fatima
Saturday, August 15, 2020
Today’s readings remind us that Jesus came to fulfill the prophecies and promises that God had spoken to his Chosen People throughout the Old Testament. Promises that had been given to the Jews for hundreds of years before Jesus’ incarnation. When Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, finally came to live among us in the fullness of time, so many of the Jewish people didn’t accept his teachings.
This was painful for St. Paul, as he explains in today’s Second Reading, to see so many fellow Jews not accepting Jesus as their Savior. But he draws comfort from looking at the situation from God’s long-term perspective.
In other words, St. Paul sees God working even through the stubborn disbelief being exhibited by so many of his chosen Jewish people.
St. Paul is able to live confidently and passionately in the present moment, because he knows that God will take care of the future. We should do the same. We should trust that God in in control, no matter how difficult our present circumstances are. We can have long-term confidence in God, because God thinks long-term.
This long-term perspective is very hard for us to live by, because our modern world has such a short-term culture.
- New products come onto the market every day, promising happiness if only we run out to buy them.
- New headlines grab our attention every day, perhaps making us angry or afraid. Diverting our attention from what really matters.
- New secrets-to-happiness come out on TV talk shows every day.
- But immediate gratification and the quick fix are not God’s style.
- God’s perspective is eternal, outside of time itself, and he wants us to share that perspective.
This comes across clearly in the First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah.
- This prophecy speaks of God’s plan to bring salvation to the Gentiles as well as the Jews.
- But the fulfillment of that prophecy wasn’t realized until Jesus performed miracles for some of the Gentiles, as he did in today’s gospel for the Canaanite woman’s possessed daughter. Until St.. Paul started preaching this Good News to them – five-hundred-years later.
- God’s planning is truly long-term planning!
There are three circumstances in life when faith in God’s long-term plan can provide special comfort and wisdom. These circumstances come at different times and in different ways. But come, they will.
First, are the circumstances of trouble and trial:
- Suffering comes to all of us, just as it came to Mary and Jesus, because we live in a fallen world and the way of the cross is the way of salvation.
- When the weight of our cross gets particularly heavy, we must make an effort to remember that God is thinking long-term, as all the saints and martyrs understood. We must also know that God doesn’t give anyone a cross that he can not bear. We must be patient during our times of trial.
- In his epic tale of suffering and retribution, The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas wisely says “All human wisdom is contained in these two words – Wait and Hope.”
- I know this is easy to say, and difficult to accept when we are in the midst trouble and trial. But we must believe it! We must ask for the grace to understand that God is in control and that he always has our best interest at heart, even when our troubles and trials seem to be unbearable.
Second, God’s long-term plan can provide special comfort and wisdom in times of success and prosperity:
- When things go well, it is easy for us to forget about God’s long-term perspective and we can easily get caught up in the thrill of pleasure, power or riches.
- When life is exceedingly pleasant, we can forget that we are pilgrims, that our purpose is not to make a paradise on earth, but to follow God’s commandments, as made known through the teachings of the Church, so as to bring ourselves and many others to heaven.
- This is why it is so important to tithe, to give of one’s time, talent, and treasure regularly and significantly for the good of the Church.
- This is why prayer, especially when things are going well for us, is essential to living a life of faith and humility.
Finally, remembering that God’s thinking is long-term thinking helps us when we have to make important decisions that may greatly change the course of our lives.
- Every one of us must make these milestone decisions at various times of our lives: vocational decisions, career decisions, relationship decisions, and more.
- When we face these decisions, we must always lift our hearts to God, begging for the grace to see all things as God sees them and respond accordingly.
- We must not be impulsive when making big decisions.
- And when our friends are facing these decisions, we should try to help them see God’s perspective. Often this involves simply listening to them as they struggle with what to do. We must be aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit at these times, open to his movement by responding lovingly to their concerns without being judgmental or strongly opinionated.
Dear friends, in times of trouble, prosperity, and decision, nothing will help us more than to remember that God’s view of everything is a long-term view.
While we may not fully understand why the circumstances of our lives are unfolding as they are, we can take comfort in the fact that God loves us and wants the best for us, that he is truly in control, and that he will give us the grace to carry our cross if we only prayerfully seek out his will and trust in his long-term plan for our lives.
Jesus, I Trust in You!