God Doesn’t Fit In Boundaries or Borders

God Doesn’t Fit In Boundaries or Borders

By

Sr. Maryann Mueller

Justice and Peace Coordinator

Felician Sisters of North America

“My house shall be called a house of prayer for ALL peoples.” (Is 56:7) This statement from the prophet Isaiah sums up the message in the readings for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, God welcomes and loves ALL of life. To follow in the footprints of Jesus we need to strive to be as inclusive as possible. The readings prompt us to question how we limit God, how we put boundaries on God’s love and mercy. “He might have mercy upon all.” (Rom. 11:32)

 

Most of us have experienced situations in our lives when we felt excluded or overlooked and so we have an idea of what it may have felt like for the Canaanite woman from Tyre and Sidon as she approached Jesus and his disciples. Her nationality and race placed her as an outsider. Most significantly, she was an outsider because of being a woman. In the first century Middle East, women were the most excluded among the excluded. St. Matthew does not even refer to this woman by name. Yet here she is, alone, approaching a group of men. Jesus’ disciples bade him to “send her away.” (Mt: 15:23)

 

 

However, Jesus engages the woman and draws from her a public witness of her faith and trust in God’s love, acceptance, mercy and inclusiveness. Jesus challenges the too-narrow societal norms that would want to limit God’s “chosen” to a select few men.

What about us? Do we put boundaries on God; limit the reaches of God’s love, mercy and acceptance? Do I personally exclude other human beings made in God’s image and likeness? Do I limit who I think is acceptable? Do I/we treat others as “outsiders,” dehumanizing those not worthy of being in my/our privileged “inner circle?” How do we treat those not born in our rigid, man-made, national boundaries? Do I unthinkingly participate in structures that exclude or overlook others? Does the sin of sexism still exist in the social structures of today?

 

As Franciscans, we have the rich tradition of inclusiveness and respect for the dignity of all creation handed down to us from the one who embraced the leper. As Catholics, we can be proud of our Bishops from both the United States and Mexico who recently celebrated Mass on the Border to raise awareness of the current legislative system that divides people. We can be proud of the Catholic Archdioceses and Dioceses involved in the Dioceses without Borders Initiative (Diocesis sin Fronteras) whose purpose is to “share life and dignity with Christ our Peace.”
However, the example Jesus gives us in today’s Gospel reminds us that we are never finished, that our “tents are always in need of widening.” Jesus saw to it that the disciples who bade him to “send her away” got the message. May our hearts be open to hear His message today.

Peace and All Good
Sr. Maryann Mueller

Justice and Peace Coordinator

Felician Sisters of North America

 

Suggested Petitions:

May we open our hearts to be understanding of all of God’s blessed diverse creations, let us pray…

 

For all those amidst violence in their home lands. May God bring peace and understanding to all those involved, let us pray…

 

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