Maintain Justice, Maintain Faith

First Reading – Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
Response – Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8
Second Reading – Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
Gospel – Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28

“I walk the miles
into the desert of my need
til God finds me.”
~ B. English

It is interesting, is it not – that someone so faith-filled can be healed or have someone healed on their faith alone? But already I am getting ahead of myself. I should take a cue from a wonderful song and start at the very beginning.

Our first reading today is a bit of a tangent from our normal Sunday discussions. We will catch up with the departure in part of our Gospel, but today we hear those magic words infiltrating mass media coverage – “WE NEED JUSTICE”. But justice, it seems, is destined for those who are foreign. Of course the author is not suggesting that only those of foreign birth can receive that Justice, but what is being Divinely inspired here is that we must be foreign to our own natures; something again touched on further in the Gospel reading, which we will get to in just a moment.

“Thus says the Lord GOD, <*dramatic pause*> who gathers the outcasts of Israel,…” Yes, outcasts. Sound familiar?

Here we are in a church full of outcasts and disenfranchised, but even then we are not the ones +He+ seeks. We have already found our home and are quite happy being with people who also have a home. Believe it or not, you are no longer one of those. WE are no longer outcasts because we have found people who love us and that we can love. No, what our Lord is referencing is those who have yet to be found or to find their path. THOSE are the ones he will reach out to and bring to peace. There are, as can be expected, rules which must be followed. (Isn’t there always?!?!? Why is it that everything has strings attached?)

Look – it is so easy to follow these rules. Love God, keep the sabbath. That is pretty much it! Later Jesus gives us one more commandment to follow – love our neighbor as ourselves. Yes, in so doing we automatically adhere to the decalogue (the 10 commandments), but keeping the sabbath is the key – it is not just a single day out of the week, it is a mindset. It is something we take deep inside ourselves and reflect back to the world every day until we come back the very next celebration of the Eucharist. Again, however, I digress. Let us get back to the teaching.

Our second reading picks up on the first – do not reject anyone! God did not so you better not! It’s that simple. And then we jump in with both feet to a really long discussion which basically says this: we are biological creatures focusing on the wrong issues. We focus on which hand feeds us rather than on what comes out of our hearts. We focus on rules and regulations rather than the hatred and vile we spew. We claim we are servants yet we go out into the streets yelling and screaming, and challenging people to come get our sorry butts and haul us off to jail because we are too stupid to – – LOVE even those with whom we have difficulties.

Then, suddenly, it seems as if our Gospel goes off track and engages in a bit of contextomy, but it is to purely make a point – we claim faith and following, but rarely do we back it up with action. The woman was so filled with faith that she KNEW with all her heart her daughter would be healed. There was no going one way or the other. There was no hypocrisy in her belief. There in the last half of our Gospel +Jesus brings the Hebrew Scriptures to life – “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But she came and knelt before him…”

It is our not just our faith alone that saves us, although that is enough, yes. We must be reflections of that faith and BE the very thing we claim to be. We must be like the woman knowing in our heart and soul – knowing at the very fabric of our beings, that our Sacred Wandering will bring us to our Lord and we will find comfort in +Him. But +He will know our hearts and minds. +He will know if we practice

what we preach…
God finds me
in the miles of my need
and so I walk out of the desert.
~ k. nelan

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