Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
For my birthday last year, my cousin from California came out to visit me so we could watch a Broadway musical together. She currently lives in Los Angeles and when we were walking in Manhattan, I could see that the big city was nothing new to her, she felt as though she belonged. The morning after the musical was Sunday so we went to mass together and as we were driving away from the church, she shared with me that she wasn’t Catholic anymore. I wasn’t altogether surprised, but I was curious, so I asked more about her journey. We had a long conversation about her faith and her questions, but what I remember most is the moment that she said she didn’t feel like she belonged. She felt that when she was in a church she had to be someone different, someone she didn’t recognize, and she couldn’t trust that her relationship with God was ever real.
If this is how you feel, let me be the first to say that you do belong. To my cousin in Los Angeles, you belong. God is saying something very particular and personal in the readings today and it is that you belong to Him. We have all been called and created to praise God both within the church and outside its walls which we see in the Gospel today. In the Gospel, the Canaanite woman teaches us something very important about perseverance. To persevere against the naysayers who say you’re unworthy. To persevere against doubt when you can’t hear Jesus. To persevere in the places where you feel like a foreigner, a reject, a sinner, or a nobody, standing firm in faith that that’s not how God sees you:
When you feel like a foreigner, God sees a traveler.
When you feel like a reject, God sees a disciple.
When you feel like a sinner, God sees a saint.
When you feel like a nobody, God sees royalty.
Throughout the Gospel, Jesus constantly shows us that he can and will work miracles when we have faith, and unfortunately that seems to be the first virtue that people lose. To my cousin in the City of Angels, remember that you don’t belong in a world of brokenness and suffering, but to a heavenly kingdom, one with real angels and saints. Pray for the virtue of faith, that it might help you to persevere against doubt and lies that make you feel as if there is no place in heaven for you.