God is loving, compassionate, merciful and forgiving
A Sunday August 20, 2017 Reflection`

By Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFM
Mission Sts. Sergius and Bacchus/Franciscans Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church
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Thus says the Lord: Have a care for justice, act with integrity, for soon my salvation will come and my integrity is manifest. Foreigners who have attached themselves to the Lord to serve him and to love his name and be his servants – all who observe the Sabbath, not profaning it, and cling to my covenant – these I will bring to my holy mountain. I will make them joyful in my house of prayer. Their holocausts and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar, for my house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples. Isaiah 56:1

These words from the first reading for the twentieth Sunday of Ordinary time are, to me, an affirmation of God's intent to welcome all people into His company regardless of their race, marital condition or sexual orientation.

In the second reading from Paul's letter to the Romans 11 verse 13 He further strengthens that concept when he writes; "I have been sent to the pagans as their apostle, and I am proud of being sent, but the purpose of it is to make my own people (meaning the Jewish People) envious of you, and in this way save some of them. and he further states "God never takes back his gifts or revokes his choice."

In the Gospel reading from Matthew 15 Christ is reported to have said; "I was sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.'…. 'Woman, you have great faith. Let your wish be granted." So, to me, the message is that with deep and abiding faith and trust in God all who desire it are not only welcome in God's house, but also are guarantied to be saved.

I have often written that it is God, and only God, that can determine who will be granted salvation. Having faith is sometimes difficult when all around us we see suffering and pain and people who seem to thrive despite their greed, hatred, and total indifference to the needs of the poor, homeless, hungry, aged and sick. But through trusting in the message of the gospels given through the teachings of Christ we can find the light of Faith in our hearts. So often in life we are faced with issues that cause us great distress and anguish and even anger because someone we trusted or had faith in or considered our friend hurt us or betrayed us. To forgive them is often the last thing we want to do, but if we are to be Christ like, we must find the path to forgiveness and that path is often through prayer.

It is through prayer and participation in the Eucharist that we can overcome all the temptations to lose faith and to harbor anger against others. It is sometimes difficult to overlook the total disregard for God by some human beings who claim to know God's will and make judgments against others by declaring that they are condemned because of how God created them or their faith belief.

We need to pray for those people because they are committing the greatest of all sins, blasphemy by placing themselves above God and taking on a power that belongs to God alone. Throughout the New Testament we see Christ welcoming all who came to him, even those who, according to Jewish law, a Jewish person, especially a man, should not be seen with or talk to.

The message Christ gave us is that Almighty God is a loving, compassionate, merciful and forgiving God who desires us to practice the same qualities toward all His children regardless of their race, sex, marital situation or even their religious denomination as long as they believe in the one God, The God of Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Jacob, David and the Father of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The message of today's readings is also a message of how we should can be pleasing to God.

We are told to; "Have a care for justice and to act with integrity." That means that we are to be fair in business dealings, in payment of wages, in discerning others and to do all things with integrity and honesty. Again sadly, many of today's business and corporate leaders, and even our elected officials do not live by those standards. Every human person should be afforded the same benefits, especially equal pay for equal work and given equality in justice and laws without discrimination.

The one sure way each one of us can have the strength to follow in the footsteps of Christ is through daily prayer and receiving the bread of life the Eucharist as often as we can. It is through having Christ and the Holy Spirit as our constant companions on our journey of life that we can live as God desires us and as taught by his beloved only son, made man for us, Jesus Christ.

If we live our life, every day, by setting aside time to center ourselves and to acknowledge and talk to God, we will be welcomed in heaven with all the heavenly elect when our journey on the road of life has ended and we are called to answer to God for how we lived our life.

God desires all His children to claim their rightful place in the Kingdom of heaven.
All we have to do to attain that, is to Know, Love and Serve God in all our actions each and every day.