Loading...
Loading...
Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Terrance KleinAugust 16, 2023
Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash

A Homily for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Isaiah 56: 1, 6-7 Romans 11: 13-15, 29-32 Matthew 15: 21-28

There are no foreigners for Christians. Our understanding of our own humanity tells us that we are ordered toward all that is. Indeed, simply to identify another as an alien, a foreigner, represents some rupture in our own humanity, some stagnation we call sin.

Nation-states must identify foreigners, but these are our creation. Living under the reign of sin, they are still a necessary bulwark, but to see them as God’s will for humanity is to blaspheme the one who knows no bounds. Serve and sacrifice for your country, recognize the good it does, but never sanctify it, calling it God’s creation.

Who is Christ? He is the self-expression, the sound, the face, the bubbling over of the Father. Yet even Christ learned who he was by listening to his fellows: foreigners and women.

No, God calls us out of ourselves and toward others, and there, God awaits us. The 19th-century English Jesuit, priest and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins speaks of all creation, crying out its innards, delighting to express itself to others, bubbling over, which is simply to say, being of God:

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells Stones ring;
like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

“What I do is me: for that I came.” Yes, self-expression is marred by sin, but we remain God’s masterpieces. Hence the compulsion, which we share with all God’s creatures, to express ourselves. And when we do that, Hopkins tells us, Christ finds expression through us:

for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Who is Christ? He is the self-expression, the sound, the face, the bubbling over of the Father. Yet even Christ learned who he was by listening to his fellows: foreigners and women. He allowed them to express themselves to him, and—as odd as it is to say—to be Christ for the Christ.

He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish” (Mt 15:26-28).

The essential self-expression of the soul is why you cannot be a silent Christian, someone with no desire to share your faith. If you have truly found life in the communion that we call Christ and his church, how can you be still? The words of the American folk song are necessarily yours, “How can I keep from singing?” Or to go back to the words of Hopkins, Christ expresses something of his own cosmic, yet-to-be-revealed self, in you.

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

The latest from america

The troubled Catholic outlet's fate was announced by a law firm representing a priest who had sued Church Militant for defamation.
The new recording of “How Great Thou Art” features a new verse, a different beat and a chance to provide humanitarian aid to Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans in the midst of war.
Is our intense focus on the form of liturgical celebration placing a disproportionate emphasis upon the Eucharist as the summit of Christian life?
Michael OlsonMarch 04, 2024
In a speech read by an aide, Pope Francis told a group of grieving parents that the best response to grief is “to imitate the emotion and compassion of Jesus in the face of pain.”