Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Nonviolence is not surrender


From the Prophet Isaiah “…all who keep the sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Is56:6-7

Does anyone believe the Lord means only white peoples? Sad to say we have witnessed the answer to that question from some with the violence that continues to spread beyond Charlottesville, VA and FL. A spine chilling quote I read Saturday 8/19 from the online site: The Christian Century, “The right-wing extremists aren’t counting on support from most white people. Just silence.” from an article entitled:  Denouncing the evil lie of white supremacy; by the editors, August 16, 2017

The so called white supremacists, the KKK, Neo Nazis, and other hate groups, exhibit pride of bigotry, the arrogance of self-righteousness fills their hearts even though many claim to be Christian. They are blinded from seeing God in their midst—standing right before them.

In an ethics of peaceful actions against evil, which I quote from the Christian Century:

 We confess that all human beings possess God-given dignity and are members of one human family, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or country of origin.

 We proclaim that the gospel of Jesus Christ has social and political implications. Those who claim salvation in Jesus Christ, therefore, must publicly name evil, actively resist it, and demonstrate a world of harmony and justice amid racial, religious and indeed all forms of human diversity.

Contrary to the Cross of Love In all of God’s created humanity and perhaps the greatest sin of all, is a life of hating God’s diversity in humanity. Outside the norm, such visceral hatred appeals to some deepening fomenting seeded bigotry. And an even greater sin in claiming themselves to be Christian.

The Canaanite woman and all the members of her tribe were outside the norm of Judaism in her day. Although the Canaanite woman was viewed by the Jews as a pagan outsider Jesus commends her faith and gives her what she wants. For unlike those who despised her, were unable to see what she was gifted to see, she had faith enough to spar with God standing right before her. One lesson from the encounter with the Canaanite Woman helps us to consider that we many of us need to grow in Faith and Strengthen Our Trust in Jesus.

While some of the members of the chosen people of God, were filled to the brim with beliefs and doctrines but Jesus condemns their hypocrisy. The pride of bigotry, the arrogance of self-righteousness filled many of their ignorant hearts and blinded them from seeing God in their midst—standing right before them.

However, we hear of the Lord’s dialogue with the Canaanite woman, the outsider. The Lord has divine insight into the hearts of the people with whom he interacted.  Of course, He knew what people were thinking and the state of their heart and he knew what we need to learn from him.

The Canaanite woman’s persistence and astuteness is rewarded by Jesus because it reflects the depth of love she has for her daughter and the depth of faith she has in God. She seeks no privileged place in the Kingdom, she is not a member of the chosen race—rather the contrary—she seeks nothing for herself.  She is an irritant to the disciples as they complain to the Lord: ***“Send her away for she keeps calling out for us!” What did they believe there ministry in Christ was supposed to be?

She may not have had the “proper” religious heritage or upbringing in God’s covenant and laws, but she recognizes Jesus as “Lord”. She may not be an acknowledged member of Jesus’ followers, but her trust in him and her faith that he is God’s Anointed, is a sign of God’s mercy working beyond the norms and conventions we humans set up to determine the “insiders” and “outsiders”.  Such a preoccupation of judging others is foundational to the ugliness we have seen in Charlottesville, VA, FL and other parts of our nation and world.

The point is that God’s mercy and love is available to all who call out to him in faith. That is what we hear in our

responsorial psalm—

O God, let all the nations praise you!
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
A similar message of inclusion is at the heart of the gospel passage—no one is an outsider in Christ. All divisions and differences between people are irrelevant to one who seeks to live as a Christian.

We are to help extend God’s all-inclusive love—to extend in help—especially to persons who are outside the so-called norms of society.  We are to be God’s answer to those who cry out to God for help. How are we answering the prayers of others for help?

Nonviolence is sometimes taken to mean surrender, lack of involvement and passivity, but this is not the case. Nonviolence begins in our hearts as we offer and accept the peace of Christ, it is then that we witness what it means to be non-violent. Jesus never backed down from speaking out and walking with those that suffer from bigotry and hatred and injustice. Shalom, Fr. Gordon