Standing On the Rock Week 2: The Church is Holy, and Holiness is for Everybody
Dear brothers and sisters,
Jesus had a specific mission to accomplish during his earthly lifetime. He was to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies and lay the foundation for the universal Sacrament of salvation, the Church. He stayed focused on that mission – Jesus never traveled to exotic locations like Rome and Spain; he never visited the intellectual powerhouses of Athens and Alexandria. Those countries and the rest of the world outside Palestine would receive God’s truth and grace not from him directly, but later, through his body, the Church. Yet when the Canaanite woman approaches him in today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 15:21-28), and by her faith, humility, and persistence, moves his heart, he changes his plans. In so doing, he gives us a brilliant glimpse into the reason behind everything he does: the salvation of souls. Jesus came “to undo the work of the devil” (1 John 3:8), which had brought the human family into its sinful, fallen state. As St. Paul put it in his First Letter to Timothy, God wants “everyone to be saved and reach the full knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). As he puts it in today’s Second Reading: “For God delivered all to disobedience,” [in other words, he permitted sin and evil to spread throughout the entire human family], “that he might have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:32). This was one of the most revolutionary aspects of the Gospel. In Old Testament times, salvation from sin, both original and personal, had been reserved only to the Jews, only to the one Chosen People. However, with the coming of Jesus, all peoples, all the Gentile nations, are now invited to hope for eternal life in the household of God, the “house of prayer for all peoples” as Isaiah had prophesied in the First Reading (Isaiah 56:7) (adapted from www.epriest.com). Questions for Small Groups:
When you hear the word “holy” what do you think about? What places or kinds of people do you think about who are “holy?”
Describe if you have ever experienced holiness in an unexpected person or place.
Do you see yourself as striving for holiness day by day? Why or why not?
Have you experienced the Church as a “house of prayer for all peoples” as Isaiah prophesies? Why or why not?
Do you see yourself as part of the Church’s universal mission to save souls? How can you evangelize others in your daily life?