20th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Note & Bulletin)

I remember the last hockey team I played for – the Ottawa Valley Titans. I was so happy to have the team. The thing that made me happiest was that I got to wear the team jacket. We were given a maroon leather jacket with the team name proudly displayed across the front. What could look better (it was the 80's, after all)? Looking back, the jacket was more important than actually playing hockey. The maroon jacket gave me a sense of identity and with the identity, a sense of value. With regards to this week‟s gospel, it seems that I was settling for scraps.

Sometimes our heartfelt desires and aspirations are pretty limited, that is, our horizon does not encompass much of life. We begin to settle and feel at home with things that do not necessarily open up our hearts and lives. When the woman from Matthew‟s gospel is shouting after Jesus, he seems to ignore her. In this, he is drawing in the disciples. He acts as they would expect. He continues to do so when he enters a brief conversation with her. When she says, “even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters‟ table,” the Lord is moved by compassion and heals her daughter. I think his compassion arose when she spoke so badly of herself, comparing herself to a dog. We are not meant to “eat the crumbs that fall from their masters‟ table.” Our horizon is not meant to closed or limited. Rather, God dreams that we enter, more and more, into the fullness of life. Christ does not offer her crumbs, he gives her everything she could imagine – her daughter was healed. In the same way, we can be bold in our faith and hope, and know in our heart that God is not satisfied with sharing mere crumbs with us, but has willed from his eternity to share his very self. I don‟t want to be satisfied with anything other than God and his love poured into my heart. Our acceptance of God‟s desire to share himself with each of us wills the acceptance of “life from the dead,” as St. Paul wrote.

We live in a world in which change is constant. We live lives that are often marked by instability and uncertainty. Sometimes it feels as if I have to protect every little thing that I consider makes up my life. These things may seem large to me, but really they are little. And when I try to protect them from apparent threats or challenges, when I refuse to let go of them, and when I think that they say something to the world about who I am and the level of my value, I have settled for crumbs. If things seem unstable, uncertain or insecure we may want to remember what our hearts say: the ground we stand on is not these little things but is God and the love that he desires we accept. All of us struggle in our own way in accepting the free offer of God‟s love. No matter how long it takes, we never have to grow despairing with our struggle. God is going nowhere, for as St. Paul wrote, “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Even though things may seem uncertain in our lives, we can recline and relax in the certainty of his love.

God bless; take care!
   —Fr John
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