Once again we are in the Book of Isaiah, today we hear from the later portion of the book so there is some debate about who wrote it modern scholars indicate that it is the second Isaiah, in terms of tone and earlier scholar would place it as third Isaiah. Whoever wrote it doesn’t really matter as it offers a unique look into post-exilic life. Basically the reading is a pronouncement that if foreigners want to worship it makes no difference to the Lord as “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.” This was a troubling idea at the time as for the first time in awhile there were Jewish people married to non-Jews and even converts to Judaism however according to scripture Ezekiel it says was opposed to non-circumcised worshiping in the temple. So here is Isaiah saying the exact opposite thing as the hymn goes “All are welcome in this place.”
As we make our way to Paul’s letter Romans we hear the same message Paul is talking to the Gentiles and says to them you are welcome to join the church, as “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” Sometime we all find ourselves not hearing the call of God and using the gifts he has given us in a proper way, but just as the Good Shepherd, who leaves his other lambs to goes out and searches for the one that is lost, even when we lose our way the Lord is always there calling our names to come back.
In the Gospel this week we hear of a miracle that takes place and this is not a normal miracle as Jesus doesn’t even meet with the person healed. One day a Canaanite women run into Jesus and cries out “Have pity on me, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon”. The disciples then try to get rid of this woman, even Jesus it seems wants her to leave as he says “I’ve only come for the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. The woman does not give up and comes forward and does homage to Jesus asking him for help. There is a little back and forth here saying that even dog eat the scraps from the table. Jesus then says to the woman “Great is your faith, let it be done as you wish.” Even in the Gospel we have Jesus going out of his way to welcome the other into his community. It is the common thread that hold all of the readings together today the idea that faith is open to everyone and it doesn’t matter if you are an Other is society there is a place for you at the table.
I hope that during this week we can be more welcoming to other when we meet them. The basic idea here is to work together with people and be accepting of them no matter who they are. The Church often times gets a bad wrap for their treatment of the other, but the same can be said for lots of other institutions look at the US Government it is run by a majority of old white guys and most politicians it seems stay in office for years on end and get next to nothing done. If we could all just embrace the other and relate to people as people and not as labels that would help bring about the Kingdom of God here on Earth.