God’s Mercy reaches all Nations
Readings: 1st: Is 53, 1. 6-7; Ps 66, 2-3. 5-6; 2nd: Rom 11, 13-15. 29-32; Gos: Mt 15, 21-28
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
On this twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Church draws our attention to God’s invitation and mercy to entire humanity. God’s invitation and mercy is without borders. This means, we all have equal opportunities to it through our response of faith.
In the first reading, God promises to bring all nations together. This is the expansion, and extension of His project of salvation towards all nations of the earth. First, this project began with, and was for Israel, “God’s first born” (Ex 2:22). Now, out of his mercy, God extends it to all others nations of the earth.
This is a demonstration of his mercy for all nations, who through faith will respond to his invitation. So, God promises that He will bring even foreigners to his house: “These, I will bring to my holy mountain. I will make them joyful in my house.” However, this promise is based on one condition. “They have attached themselves to the Lord, in order to love him, and to serve him.”
In the second reading, Paul also strikes on the same chord as Isaiah did. It suffices to note that when Paul says, “Mercy to all,” he is not saying that God will save everyone. Rather, that His mercy is available to all those who will respond accordingly to his invitation. For, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2: 21).
So, Paul demonstrates his confidence in God’s mercy. He insists that, although, some have rejected God as Israel (the covenant people) did, God himself has not rejected or forgotten them. This is because, “God never takes back his gifts or revokes his choice.” He is true and faithful to his word and promise.
Hence, Paul reminds us that God has not forgotten his chosen people even though they disobeyed Him. No, God does not give up an anyone, even those who rejected him. Rather, He continues to wait patiently for all. So, Paul warns us not to be proud, or unmerciful to others because of the mercy we have received from Christ. This is because, our situation has nothing to do with merits. Rather, we are who we are, through the mercy and kindness of God. Indeed, “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).
Today’s gospel goes further to illustrate the universality of God’s mercy. However, that Jesus was initially hesitant to listen to the woman, perhaps could have been to test her faith. In order words, in spite of the fact that God is ready to show us mercy, he requires something from us: “faith as small as the mustard seed” (Mt 17: 20). A very important requirement for receiving this mercy is the amount of faith we demonstrate in Jesus Christ.
The woman demonstrated her faith in Christ. Of course, Christ showed her mercy by healing her daughter. Her persistence is also worth emulating. In spite of all odds, and what looked like Jesus’ refusal to answer her, she did not give up. So, like this Canaanite woman, each and every one is in need of God’s mercy. All we need do, is to demonstrate our faith in Christ and, he will show us his mercy.
Today, Jesus is close to us. So, like this woman, we must cry out to Him: “Son of David, take pity on me.”
Peace be with you all!