Reading I: Isaiah 56:1,6-7
Reading II: Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
GOSPEL: Matthew 15:21-28

The Choice is Yours

Have you ever had one of those “salvation” debates? You know – the kind where you pit two different groups against each other? For example, who will be saved – the “good” person who doesn’t go to church or the “bad” one who does? The baptized soul or the unbaptized one? The Christian or the Muslim or the Jew or everyone else?

At the time, it may seem like a logical debate. But is it logical to pit people against each other in the discussion of salvation?

I speak about this from my own blind experience. You see, I started many such discussions. Well… actually, it’s more accurate to say that I have initiated many such discussions.

On the surface it may seem logical that if there is salvation for one group, then that must mean someone else is missing out. Yet after looking at the readings for this week, I believe that that type of discussion is just way off-base. Salvation is not a game. There is no Team A and Team B with a winner-take-all glorious prize.

In fact, I think it is a very common mistake that we humans make. I know I do it all the time. The mistake is this: we think about salvation and God in our own human terms and concepts. The truth, however, is that God created salvation and Heaven on His terms. In order to think like God, we need to throw out our human ideas and our human baggage. For me, this means I need to stop thinking of everything as if it were a football game (though that does sound a bit like heaven to me). I doubt, however, that football is what God had in mind.

Salvation is Available for All

In the first reading, the Lord says “for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples“. For all people – there was no line that said “for groups a through f, not including b or d.”

Although The Lord didn’t discriminate between races, He did say that His house would be acceptable to those who love the Lord. The Lord says to take right and just action, become a servant, minister, and hold close the covenant.

In the second reading, Paul writes to the Romans to give them the same message. All can have salvation. Keep in mind that, at the time, many people viewed this Christianity “thing” as something for the Jewish people. Paul is out preaching and saying that it’s also for Gentiles – those who are not Jewish. Then he takes it even further, saying that some of the Jews don’t seem to care, for they have disobeyed God.

Paul is sending a simple message: If you desire it, the Gift of God is there for everyone who cares to grab hold.

In the Gospel, Jesus also shows mercy to someone with great faith in the Lord. A Canaanite woman is following the disciples and Jesus. The disciples feel pestered and annoyed with her and they ask Jesus to send her away. (The disciples seem to have a history of this.) At first, Jesus says, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”.

But the woman doesn’t give up. She pleads for help. She asks that her daughter be freed from a demon. Jesus then compares her to a dog, but she still doesn’t give up saying, “even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters”. Impressed with her faith, Jesus grants her plea. Her faith was strong.

Faith is the Foundation

At a certain level, the readings this week are quite simple to understand. Salvation is for all people – and the foundation of it is to have faith.

Use that faith in your daily lives. Love your God and, through your actions, all of His children. Don’t take your blessings for granted. It seems very obvious that many of the house of Israel did take this for granted. They got caught up in the laws, rules, and customs of the day.

We must also avoid getting caught up in the rules and customs of our day. Remember that, in the first reading, the Lord says, “Observe what is right, do what is just“. In the second reading Paul says, “For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all”. And in the Gospel, Jesus says, “O woman, great is your faith“.

Justice. Mercy. Faith. These are given to all people. The choice is yours. Salvation is being offered. Create a foundation of faith and accept this gift the Lord has offered!

Life Applications:

Who do you think salvation belongs to? Why?
What baggage in your life could you get rid of in order to grow closer to God?
How do you demonstrate a desire for justice, mercy, and faith?

Copyright 2002-2017 by Rod Hetherton
All rights reserved.