20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Note: Fr. Ed’s homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time is now available online! Click here to listen.

“The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, … loving the name of the LORD, and becoming His servants…I will bring to My holy mountain and make joyful in My house of prayer…”Isaiah 56:6-7

The Canaanite Woman, Limbourg brothers. Courtesy wikiart.org.
The Canaanite Woman, Limbourg brothers. Courtesy wikiart.org.

The Word of God is filled with wonderful promises associated with our concrete choice to follow the Lord Jesus. In this passage from Isaiah, we have a promise that we can actually take as directly impacting us, because we (at least those among us not from a Jewish background) are “the foreigners who join(ed) themselves to the Lord.” We are the ones who can experience being joyful in His house of prayer.

This is the gift that we have to offer:  the awareness that making the concrete choice to live for the Lord Jesus, under His Lordship, thus joining ourselves to Him, is a gift that the King of Kings takes seriously and, in His great love for us, responds to with the wondrous graces that are His to give. Those graces include bringing more joy into our lives, especially as we gather to worship Him in His house of prayer. The graces also include healing and deliverance, as the Canaanite woman experienced for her daughter.

Last Sunday we heard a moving testimony of this, as Miguel Zuniga shared at all our Sunday Masses the difference that the Lord Jesus has made in his life since he came back to Him, after having drifted away. He had fallen into hard times and hard things and yet experienced that the King of Kings delighted to invite him to return home. Miguel’s comments about the difference that that encounter has made in his life should inspire all of us to even more zealously pursue our relationships with the Lord Jesus. But, as he also pointed out, his return to the path of the Gospel was facilitated by the simple invitation of his sister to him to participate in an Alpha. A simple act of love on his sister’s part facilitated his re-encounter with the Lord Jesus and turned his life around.

How many people do we know who are in desperate need of such an encounter or re-encounter? As I look over the folks gathered at Mass on any given Sunday, I see so many of our families that have loved ones who are no longer walking with the Lord Jesus, who have, for whatever reason, drifted away from Him. Let’s take a lesson from Miguel’s sister, who loved her brother so much that she was willing to risk some potential rejection or difficult feelings in order to invite him to Alpha. She could not know on the front end what his reaction was going to be. In point of fact, Miguel pointed out that she had every reason to expect a hostile or at least non-compliant response. But love risks it.

Will all such invitations result in such a “happy ever after” kind of ending? Probably not, but one thing is certain. Without an offering of an invitation, one will never know what might have been, what wonderful changes might have taken place in the life of someone we care for. Let us plead with the Lord Jesus for the grace to risk it.

Joey McCoy rather eloquently pointed out that it is our responsibility, as the people of the Lord Jesus, to go out into the world and share the Good News. Sometimes going out into the world requires nothing more than a simple conversation with someone we might see every day, or might even live with.

What is also good to note is that we simply have to invite to Alpha. The Alpha program itself does all the heavy lifting for us, in terms of providing a welcoming environment and quality teachings that can help those we love find their way back home. If we simply invite them and then accompany them on their journey, the King of Kings will do what He delights to do:  be the Savior Who loves to save!  Even so, come Lord Jesus!  —  Fr. Ed