I have come to preach at all the Masses this weekend because I want to invite the entire parish to be a part of something very important. But before I share what that is (isn’t anticipation wonderful), let me first use our readings today to help give reason for its importance. Let’s start with our Gospel and explain who this Canaanite woman is and the interaction with Jesus and the disciples to her. Unfortunately, I won’t have time, in this homily, go into depth about what Jesus says to her, but I will be able to make a few points.
Our Gospel begins by saying that Jesus went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. Now this region was what was known as Gentile territory- in an area in which predominantly pagans, or non-believers lived. In this Gentile, pagan territory a Canaanite woman came to him. It is important to understand that the Canaanites were more than just non-believers, but they were a group of people that were immersed in sin. In fact, Wisdom chapter 12 recounts how sinful and evil the Canaanites were. For not only were they worshippers of many false-gods, but were also workers of witchcraft and even sacrificed their own children to demons. You can imagine how much dislike there was between Israelites and Canaanites, in fact they were downright enemies. Their differences go all the way back to Genesis. Obviously, with people participating in this kind of evil, there were many in their community that were possessed by demons, as this woman’s daughter was.
But this Canaanite woman came to Jesus and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon”. This Canaanite, this non-believer, called Jesus ‘Lord’, and literally cried out in Greek- ‘Kyrie Elesion’- Lord Have Mercy. She recognized Jesus had the power to have mercy and dispel demons. But notice how the disciples treated her, they didn’t want her to come to Jesus but wanted him to throw this woman, their enemy who made them feel so uncomfortable, out of their presence. Jesus, however, doesn’t throw her out, but does clarify to the confused disciples that He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel- meaning that Jesus did come to gather all the scattered Israelites who were living under the radar in Gentile territory, and not living out and witnessing to the One God.
The desire of this woman to heal her daughter, as well as her faith in the power of Jesus, made this woman persevere and cry out a second time. Even though she is an enemy and has done many sinful things- in her lowliness and, she is begging for mercy and healing. And Jesus happily commends her for her great faith and heals her daughter on the spot.
My brothers and sisters, the point I want to make is that Jesus had much love for the woman, regardless of her sins. God desires to save every person- every believer who is lack-lustily living out their faith, as well as the worst of sinners who come to Him. How often though are we, like the disciples who might pray for those believers who aren’t practicing their faith, but tend to ignore and avoid the sinners who make us feel uncomfortable. Let us reflect on our need to have the faith of the woman, and trust in God’s mercy, and not our own emotions.
Our 1st reading echoes this point. The prophet Isaiah describes a time in the future in which foreigners, that is Gentiles and non-believers, will repent and join in the prayers for love of the Lord. Foreigners will repent, become His servants and follow the covenant; and God will accept their sacrifices for God wants His house to be a house of prayer for all peoples. And so, my brothers and sisters, if God wants all peoples to be saved and come into His house, then how much are we honestly and wholeheartedly praying and facilitating that?
And here comes the reason of my preaching at all the Masses and inviting every parishioner to be a part of: Beginning tomorrow, Monday, August 21st, Bishop Olmsted, and many Bishops throughout the world, are beginning a 54-day rosary novena to consecrate their diocese to the Immaculate Heart, as Our Lady of Fatima asked the Church to do. At the same time, we will also pray to consecrate our own parish, Corpus Christi to the Immaculate Heart as well. Therefore, I encourage you to join the universal (Catholic) community of prayer warriors in the rosary Novena and the Consecration of the Diocese and parish. The consecration will then be after 54 days, on Friday October 13, on the 100 anniversary of Our Lady’s appearance to the 3 children of Fatima.
What this powerful rosary novena consists of is praying the rosary and Consecration prayer every day- for 54-days, the Consecration will be on our website and bulletin next week. Our Lady of Fatima asked every Christian to pray a rosary every day for the conversion of sinners and for peace- this great need, and her plea is ever more urgent for us to hear and obey today. I understand some of you are not in the habit of praying the rosary every day, for a long time I wasn’t either. I knew how to, I believed in the power of the rosary, and knew Mary asked her children to pray one every day, but honestly, I didn’t prefer it as part of my daily prayer, I thought it was boring to pray in such a scripted and monotonous way and so my daily prayer consisted of other types of prayer. However, after a while, I felt our Lord asking me to pray a rosary every day, but not pray it just to do it, but to pray it for a specific intention, and He would tell me who to offer it for. And let me tell you, having an intention really does help me really pray it every day. And when I do really pray it well and meditate on the mysteries, they are often very insightful and fruitful. But not only that- when I do, there are many people who come back to confessions after many years-(which is one of the intentions I pray for most often). Mary and Our Lord our so faithful- so let’s be intentional with our prayers?
Some of you are in the habit of praying a rosary every day, good job, but I know that it can become kind of routine, something that is just said. If you do pray a rosary every day, I ask you to dedicate with all your heart the intention of the rosary. There are 4 intentions that we are asking you to pray for in this 54 days- 1 for the parish, and the others are the intentions of Bishop Olmsted; so perhaps you rotate the 4 intentions- 1 a day for each rosary.
As I was praying about beginning this Novena and Consecration, I got the sense in prayer that Mary wants to make this parish a ‘Hospital for Sinners’. And so the 1st intention is just that- that we will become a ‘Hospital for Sinners’. Although I haven’t received anything specific yet, I do know that the efforts we are making- in being a more welcoming community that proclaims the love of God, and fostering the level of intentional discipleship to which God is calling us to follow Him, is very much part of helping sinners come back to God and His Church. However, as you pray it, ask our Lord what he desires for Corpus Christi. If you receive any more insights about what Mary and our Lord have in mind and heart for this parish to be a Hospital for Sinners, please let me know.
The other 3 intentions from Bishop Olmsted include: 2) For the dignity of life in every stage- from conception to natural death. 3) An increase in vocations to Priesthood and Religious Life. And 4) for strengthening of marriages and families. So as you can see, these intentions are very worthy of our time. I encourage you to pray a rosary every day for these intentions. In addition, I also strongly encourage you to pray it as a family whenever possible. I know it might be a sacrifice in your busy lives, but I also know that the families who do are more united. Depending on the family and the age of the children it might be a challenge, but God will bless every effort you make.
So finally- Today I am asking for your commitment. Please raise your hand if you believe in the power of prayer? Good, me too. Please raise your hand if you will join in this powerful novena. Wow, look around at all these prayer warriors. I thank you for joining me in consecrating ourselves and diocese, and as a result I look forward to seeing the many sinners who will come home, and the many fruits in our families as we do.BACK TO LIST