As we continue our Christian journey of discipleship, this Sunday, there is a universal vision echoed in all the readings. That God’s plan of salvation is for all people, his message revealed in the scriptures offers hope for everyone, and that true faith in the God of compassion and love finds expression in people of all faith and none. This message is in support of what the developmental psychologist James Fowler holds, that, faith is universal and that a person of faith includes others, wants to be in communion with others, and any tradition. He also finds faith as a process of meaning-making, where it opens us to the newness of life and a way of seeing things around us. By way of contrast to what Fowler says, the disciples are seeing things differently from the Lord, and two times we see them attempting to stop Jesus from reaching out to the needs of others with compassion. At the miracle of the loaves, the disciples see the impossibility while in today’s gospel, they see a non-Jew woman and perceive her as someone who has crossed the cultural boundaries, and therefore, a nuisance. The disciples have a narrow view and every time Jesus is challenging them to broaden their view of God and his acts on people’s lives.
In the Gospel of this Sunday, Jesus singles out the Canaanite woman as an example of faith that is universal and indomitable. The Lord does not close his eyes to our needs, and even when it looks like he delays, it is meant to strengthen our faith in him through our insistence with hope and trust. Recently, we celebrated such examples of universal and indomitable faith such as St. Lawrence the Deacon and Martyr, St. Sixtus II, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and the assumption of Mary into heaven, where our faith focuses. Inspired by their faith, and like the first reading where Isaiah recounts that God will gather joyfully the foreigners and they will worship in his house, we can also develop an integral view of others in our Christian communities without hatred or judgment. St. Paul sees the universality of salvation and as Fowler explains, faith opens us to a new way of seeing life and other people. It offers us a universal Christian mission and the church community, we can become hospitable to all without considering their colour, race, or tribe. And therefore, we can build a just society that respects the dignity of every human being. The Psalmist acknowledges that the light of God shines upon all people of every tribe and nation. This text speaks to our time when racism, tribal politics, and the economic strengths have blurred our vision of common humanity.
Looking back to our Christian calling last week to lift those who are sinking in the sea of life, and become peace to others through kindness, this week, our Christian action is the same call but also extended to those who are desperate because of being rejected, judged, misunderstood, or marginalized. Take time this week to find out who is desperate in his/her life and that person is close to you. Find out Why? What can you do for that person? Take the example of Jesus and the Saints, reach out to him/her without judgment but with an indomitable universal/integral approach; acceptance and compassion.
Joy and Peace.