It is not too often that all three Sunday scriptures have a common reference point, but it happens this Sunday, the 20th week of ordinary time (the counted weeks of our liturgical year). In the first reading Isaiah proclaims that foreigners who join themselves to the Lord are welcomed into “my house … a house of prayer for all peoples.” The Epistle is from Romans where Paul speaks to Gentiles (non-Jews) as “the apostle to the Gentiles,” telling them that they are brought to the Lord by the irrevocable gifts and call of God. In the Gospel, the Jewish rabbi Jesus interacts with a non-Jewish Canaanite woman who is asking for a cure for her daughter. Matthew portrays Jesus in his humanness believing that he is only to minister to the lost sheep of Israel, but the Canaanite woman convinces Jesus to understand God’s mercy in a broader sense. This would have been a powerful call to reconciliation in Matthew’s community. It was a community of primarily Jewish converts in a Greek speaking setting such as Syria or Palestine, with Gentile neighbors and some Gentile converts. In today’s world of suspicion about refugees, immigrants, and Muslims, the Lord is undoubtedly speaking to us now. What does it mean to each of us to “put America first” in our hearts but also to welcome the stranger and foreigner?
– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia