Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Ps 67:2-3, 5-6, 8; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28
The Isaiah 56 reading is some 2500 years old. Some Jews had returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile and rebuilt the temple. This reading speaks of faithfulness to their covenant with Yahweh doing what is just. It also speaks of bringing salvation to the whole world. God’s house is to be a house of prayer for all people. Psalm 67 carried the same theme of justice and equity for all people.
This section of Matthew, also found in Mark 7:24-30, speaks about a Canaanite women who knew that her daughter was being tormented by a demon. So she went to Jesus asking help. Jesus ignored her request and that of his disciples. The woman went to Jesus herself. Jesus responded, "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." She responded that even the dogs get the scraps from the master’s table. Jesus rewarded her for her persistence and faith and healed her daughter.
What should be said about where we are today? St. Paul said to the Ephesians in 1:3: "Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who bestowed on us in Christ, every spiritual blessings in the heavens." The world is facing a great threat today from many of the Islamic countries of the East. One of their major tenets is to kill all those who will not accept their "religious" belief. The Jewish and Christian communities have been dealing with this threat for some 1,400 years, since the death of Mohamed. The threat somewhat calmed down with two major Christian battles with the help of Mary and her rosary, in the Middle Ages, which saved the Christian West from being wiped out.
Now not just one demon but hoards of them are threatening the world. Do we sit back and be slaughtered? We can’t contain this by military might and more missiles. God has given us the spiritual weapons. We need to beg God to enlighten especially the radical Islamic leadership with God’s truth. We can’t do it one-on-one and by talking. If we try that we would be killed on the spot. We need God’s mercy.
I feel like Gandalf the Grey who goes off to enlist help to save his people. Tolkien had Gandalf return in the morning from the East with much help and the humans were saved. Let us amass our forces of "prayer warriors" to storm heaven with all the prayers the Lord directs us to use. In the Pentecost Sequence we pray: "Come, Holy Spirit, come! And from your clear celestial home, shed a ray of light divine!" Dear Lord, we beg and plead with you to enlighten these terrorists with the truth of your Divine Light in their minds to see that "killing other children of God will not get them into heaven" but take them to the others place of fire forever.
My second point is to the beg God to send as many legions of angels as necessary from heaven to spiritually defeat these radical threats to his beloved people.
"St. Michael, the archangel, defend us in our days of battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we boldly and humbly pray, and do You, O Prince of the heavenly hosts by the power of God, drive into hell satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls."
We plead in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen. We spread our faith by peace, love and justice.
Our United States bishops have called for this Sunday, August 17th, to be a National Day of Prayer for Iraq.
(© 2014 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)