SUNDAY 20 August 2017, 20th Sunday
• Isaiah 56:1, 6-7 • Psalm 67 • Romans 11:13-15, 29-32 • + Matthew 15:21-28 •
Title: “Stealing Home”
[__01__] The 1955 baseball World Series. In the top of the 8th inning, in Game 1 of the 1955 World Series, at Yankee Stadium, the Brooklyn Dodgers were playing the New York Yankees.
The Yankees had the lead, 6 to 4. There were two outs and the Dodgers had one runner on 3rd base. The runner on 3rd base was -- Jackie Robinson.
The Yankee left-handed pitcher was Whitey Ford. Thus, Ford had his back turned to 3rd base and Jackie Robinson who was a fast runner and base stealer. After Whitey Ford’s first pitch to the batter (there was 1-0 count), Jackie Robinson started running towards home plate.
This was a risky move, i.e., to steal home. Yet, Robinson did make it safely and scored a run. Robinson had stolen home against the mighty New York Yankees and our own, catcher Yogi Berra, of Montclair.
The Dodgers beat the Yankees in the 1955 World Series in 7 games.
[__02__] In the years 1947 – 1955 and beyond, Jackie Robinson did more than steal home – or steal 2nd or 3rd. His excellence earned him a place in the MLB Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
And, most importantly, he was the first baseball player to break the so-called “color line.”
That is, he was the first black ballplayer, playing 2B, second base, for the Dodgers of Brooklyn and, later, of Los Angeles.
[__03__] Jackie Robinson was one of many in our nation how stood up for equal rights, for dignity of every person, not only by what he said and did but also by what he chose not to say and chose not to do.
In the 2013 movie, “42”, we learn about the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson. We see him enduring taunts and death threats too by those who did not want him to play – much less, succeed – in baseball, the American pastime.
Robinson left mark by accepting that this role was to work and to struggle but to do so without REVENGE or RETALIATION.
[__04__] Robinson’s peacefulness and tranquility enabled him not only to score with home runs and runs-batted-in and but also to win over hearts and minds and respect.
Are we not called to go and do likewise?
[__05__] The recent tragic events in Charlottesville highlight the continued presence of rhetoric and racism and violence in our communities.
Meanwhile, the official response -- that has been perceived by many -- by civil leadership has unleashed a nationwide debate which has created a certain moral ambiguity – or moral equivocation.
As a Catholic and a priest, I share – I daresay we all – reject all forms of hatred, violence, white supremacy and racism.
[__06__] Do we not believe that every human person is a child of God, created in his image and likeness and that we are all brothers and sisters, regardless of culture, regardless of nationality, regardless of race, language and way of life?
[__07__] We also have shared beliefs about the importance of FORGIVING and SEEKING FORGIVENESS, about contrition, sorrow for our sins. After confession, in our Catholic prayer of absolution, the priest prays these words of consolation and reconciliation over you and me: “God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins.” (Roman Catholic Rite of Penance)
All of us are called to come before God to seek his FORGIVENESS and to turn away not only from RACISM and BIGOTRY but also to turn away from REVENGE and BLINDNESS rather than forgiveness?
[__08__] Is it not easy for us to rush toward – or simply slip and fall our way into – REVENGE or RETALIATION?
Is it not easy for REVENGE or RETALIATION to enter your heart or my heart to cause DARKNESS, to impair our VISION, our HEARING, indeed our ability to see and hear?
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit among us so that we will not only recognize the power of goodness but also the power and presence of evil.
[__09__] St. Augustine in his Confessions observes that he can see – in the smallest child – small examples of selfishness or sinfulness. He is making an observation of the choices that small children will make when they do not get their way.
And, moms & dads & teachers, do you not endeavor strenuously to correct your children, to teach them the virtues of respect, of honesty, of sacrifice, because you know this will help them to lead lives of virtue and love?
As we read in the parable: “Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few (small) things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25:12)
[__10__] We teach them these ways of love. And, we also teach – and learn ourselves – that love is not always easy. Love is sometimes difficult. Love not only calls us to console the other person but also to challenge the other person. And, to love myself, I am called to accept the challenge of conversion, and to remember that God’s ways are not my ways.
The boundaries of love call us to let both our YES mean YES and our NO mean NO. (cf. Matthew 5:37).
Love is the higher road, the road less traveled and may call us to do things that do not get noticed or rewarded.
[__11__] The cornerstone of love is the choice to forgive and to seek forgiveness.
With love in our hearts, we can do so. That is, we can forgive and seek forgiveness. Thus, we have harmony, we are in tune, loving God and neighbor.
But, when there is hatred, resentment, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. (cf. 1 Corinthians 13).
It is very had to forgive and ask forgiveness with hatred or resentment in our hearts.
St. John of the Cross writes: where there is no love, put love and you will draw out love = donde no hay amor, pon amor, y sacarás amor.
We can – and we are called to – beg for mercy for those who sin against us, for our enemies, for those we dislike, for those who may dislike us. where there is no love, put love and you will draw out love = donde no hay amor, pon amor, y sacarás amor.
Thus, putting love there, this helps us to choose repentance rather than revenge, and to … avoid whatever leads us to sin.
[__12__] With our attention on Charlottesville, we see there are individuals and groups with contrary beliefs, contrary creeds.
The violence and reactions in the streets around the University of Virginia, led to the injury of many and the death of …
► Heather Heyer…
And of 2 Virginia State Troopers:
► Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen,
► Trooper Berke M. M. Bates of
[__13__] The Catholic Church is one big parish family with many benches, many people and many countries and nationalities and cultures.
The strength of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish is in our diversity, our respect for the other, and our welcome to everyone.
They need not STEAL HOME to gain entry. It is through God´s steadfast love that we all are in his presence and united.
In the Gospel this Sundya, the woman of Tyre and Sidon – of a culture separate and apart from Jesus of Galilee – does not “steal home.” The woman symbolizes you and me in those moments when we do not get our way or when the God seems distant. She perseveres, praying, asking more questions.
It is through God’s unyielding love that she is welcomed.
[__14__] In ancient letter of the 2nd century, St. Justin Martyr writes about the life of people in the Mediterranean region and about how their prayerful attention to the Gospel brought them together:
Saint Justin Martyr, writing at a time when Christians were
persecuted in the 2nd century, that we grow in love of God and neighbor by our respect for the person whom we do not understand. St. Justin Martyr writes: “we who hated and destroyed one another, and on account of their different manners would not live with men of a different tribe, now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them, and pray for our enemies, and endeavour to persuade those who hate us unjustly to live conformably to the good precepts of Christ, to the end that they may become partakers with us of the same joyful hope of a reward from God the ruler of all.” (St. Justin Martyr, The First Apology, Ch. 14.) [__fin__]