HOMILY FOR AUGUST 16, 2020
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Scripture Readings at Mass Sunday, August 16, 2020
What to listen for in today’s Bible readings
Today’s readings speak of Jesus’ mission to gather all nations to Himself. In the first reading, Isaiah predicts a day when even the “foreigners who join themselves to the LORD” will serve as priests at the Altar of the Lord. The Responsorial Psalm picks up this theme, as the response is “O God, let all the nations praise you!” In the Gospel, Jesus is in the pagan territory of Tyre and Sidon, formerly lands occupied by the ten lost tribes of Israel. A pagan woman acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah, as a sign that one day even the pagans will worship Jesus as the true God.
Today’s homily in one sentence
Today’s message is: What is your rudder?
HOMILY NOTES A. The outboard motor and a rudder
A rudder is flat piece hinged vertically near the stern of a boat or ship for steering.
The rudder guides the boat.
Without a rudder a boat is vulnerable to wherever the waves take it.
B. The “where” reveals the “what”
“Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon” (Today’s Gospel, Matthew 15:21)
Noah was the father of Ham; Ham is the father of Canaan; Canaan is the father of Sidon” (Genesis 10)
After wandering through the desert for 40 years, God eventually settles His Chosen People in their own land. Guess who was already living in that land? The Canaanites, who lived in the land of Canaan.
Of all the pagan peoples, the Canaanites were the most immersed in idolatry of false gods, as well as explicit immorality. The Canaanites were regarded as the enemies of Israel, as they were at war constantly with Israel in the Old Testament.
“And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, ‘Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.’” (Today’s Gospel, Matthew 15:22)
C. Lost tribes
“He said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Today’s Gospel, Matthew 15:24)
Abraham was the father of Isaac
Isaac was the father of Jacob
Jacob was the father of 12 sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin
These are the great grandsons of Abraham. Each son became head of his own tribe: the 12 tribes of Isreal.
In 722 B.C., the northern 10 tribes of Israel were forcibly deported by the Assyrians. They were scattered among the nations. The Assyrians then settled Gentile peoples in what was formerly known as the northern kingdom. The region of Tyre and Sidon is in the land of Canaan. This is where Jesus was in today’s Gospel.
There was an expectation among first century Jews that one day the 10 lost tribes of Israel would be gathered back into the promised land. Many thought that one of the works of the Messiah would
be to gather the lost tribes of Israel, so that all 12 tribes would be reunited under one king, and thus the kingdom of God would be established on earth.
THREE QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR RUDDER
D. FIRST QUESTION: What do you need from your rudder?
Must be bigger than the “waves”. In other words, a rudder must be able to endure what comes against it.
Your rudder must be able to serve as the guide for discernment. In other words, how do you know what to believe, who to follow, or how to respond?
A outboard’s rudder only works in harmony with the rest of the equipment. In other words, you have to engage with the rudder. And, your “rudder” must be connected to the whole of your life.
E. SECOND QUESTION: Is there a case for Jesus Christ as your rudder?
God sees what we see, but also sees what we don’t see.
“Those who are ignorant to history are bound to repeat it.” We have been “here” before, and we will be “here” again. God has “seen” of all of “this” before.
There’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom. For example, knowledge can teach me how to build a bomb, wisdom tells me not to. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. The difference is wisdom.
F. THIRD QUESTION: How can Jesus Christ become your rudder?