Homily for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 56.1, 6-7 Psalm 67 Romans 11.13-15, 29-32 Matthew 15.21-28
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Fifty years ago Saturday, a concrete wall covered with barbed wire was erected in the middle of Berlin, Germany. For almost thirty years, this wall separating communist East Germany from democratic West Germany was a symbol for the whole world of the deep divisions that had been created by different views of power, government, economy, and even religion. And even though the wall was toppled over twenty years ago, there are still deep divisions in our world – new ways that we continue to separate ourselves from one another. From the violent reaction to a multi-cultural Norway to the famines in Africa that widen the gap between the poor and the rich, the starving and the well-fed – it might seem like that the literal and figurative walls of separation are growing longer, higher, and stronger all over the world.
Our challenge and our call as Christians is to recognize where these walls exist and find a way around them. Scripture could not be any clearer … in Isaiah, “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples;” … in Romans, God shows his mercy to all people, Jew and Gentile; … in Matthew, Jesus recognizes the faith of a foreign woman, greater faith from this outsider than from many of the insiders he had encountered. Our Church is a catholic Church, which means that it is universal – for all people – because God is for all people. Regardless of politics, or convenience, or economy, or personal preference – our challenge and call as Christians is to be a people that has no divisions, a people that welcomes everyone, a people that does not create walls to keep people out, or to keep people in. Because God does not build walls; He tears them down. God doesn’t separate people based on income, race, or country of origin; He brings people together. And we must do the same thing.