A word from—Fr. Robert
Precious Church Family,
Warm and prayerful greetings from my home country Ghana, my diocese and my Bishop. I feel gratified, humble, honored and glad to be given the opportunity by our Sweet Pastor, Msgr. (Fr.) Bob and the Sweet Joyful St. Augustine Church Family to be here and to be a part of your Silver Jubilee (25th Anniversary) celebration. At the same period, I am also celebrating my 25th Anniversary of Priesthood, and my diocese, in Ghana, Koforidua (Kofridiya) is also celebrating her Silver Jubilee. So, CONGRATULATIONS & HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to us all – Fr. Bob, St. Augustine Church, my diocese and myself!
Church Family, I want us to reflect on the theme: CALLED TO REACH OUT TO ALL PEOPLE. In the early church, the apostles found themselves faced with the problem of whether to admit or not admit non-Jews into the Christian community because they thought that salvation was for Jews only. Jesus Himself had limited His public life to His own people and had also told them, when He was sending them out, not to go to the pagan or Samaritan territories (Matthew 10:5-1).
Why did Jesus issue such a directive which today seems completely out of character? Did He not come to bring salvation to all? God’s program was that Salvation was to be announced first to the people of Israel. If they were found faithful, then they would become the light to all other people. So it was logical and fitting that Jesus should spend His time with the people of Israel, though He made it clear that the Gospel was for all the world and this is brought out in today’s Gospel Reading (Matthew 15:21-28).
In the reading a foreign woman goes to Jesus for healing for her daughter who was tormented by a demon. She is a Canaanite woman who belonged to a people hostile to Israel a dangerous people who had before drawn Israel from her faith in the Lord and had seduced her into worshipping Baal, an idol. What would Jesus do? Would he stick to the rules that forbade Jews even to speak to such people or would He break down the barriers that divided the people?
Matthew tells us that at first Jesus treats her harshly, and later, even rudely. But the rest of the story shows how it was all to lead His apostles to a radical change of heart. “Woman, you have a great Faith,” exclaims Jesus at the end of the story. No Israelite was praised by Jesus like that.
Jesus heals the daughter of the Canaanite woman and by healing her, He teaches His disciples He has come to pull down the barriers that divide people. The people of God includes all as indicated in both the 1st and 2nd Readings, and we are also being called to reach out to all, “for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people”.
The Joyous St. Augustine Church family welcomes and is hospitable to all, 24/7. She shares the little she has with all. So I see today’s message as an affirmation and encouragement for us to continue to open the doors of our hearts wide to all people. I am so inspired to see Fr. Bob and many parishioners here always coming to offer kind services to the Church and all people with great passion.
May the irrevocable Gifts and Blessing of God be mighty upon us all as we celebrate our Silver Jubilee(s) and also as we continue to respond to His call to reach out to all people. Amen.