August 14, 2011
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Is 56:1, 6-7; Rom 11:13-15, 29-32; Mt 15:21-28
It is difficult to understand how the same Jesus who walked across the water to save his disciples and reached out his hand to Peter when he was sinking would completely ignore the Canaanite woman when she pleaded for Jesus to heal her daughter from demons. In fact the Gospel has Jesus telling her, take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” (Mt 15:27) The point of today’s Gospel is exactly the opposite. While Peter and the disciples had difficulty believing and responding in faith to Jesus, the Canaanite woman would demonstrate perfect faith. She will call upon Jesus as "Lord" and beg him to the scraps of the table meant for the Jews.
As most know, we are presently on our pilgrimage visiting the holy places in Croatia and discovering the spiritual roots of the Croatian part of our San Pedro community. I am currently writing my Pastor Message as we are leaving the city of Split and to the Island of Vis and visiting the city of Komiza. We are crossing the water lucky that the sea is much calmer than that of the disciples and very anxious to be united with our families from San Pedro who find their roots in Komiza. From what we observe, however, the Komiza where our Pedrans found their roots is much different than the Komiza today. Now it is filled with foreigners who seek out the Island for its beauty and beaches.
Yesterday we had the privilege of celebrating Mass in the mausoleum of Diocletian which is currently the Cathedral of St. Domnius. Diocletian was Emperor of the Roman Empire from 284 to 305 A.D. and responsible for the most horrific period of persecution in the Catholic Church including the local bishop whose remains would occupy his tomb and who would become the patron of his city. It was truly from the blood of the martyrs who died under the persecution of Diocletian that the church would grow and become within twenty years of his death the official religion of the empire. The faith that was lacking at times in the early Apostles, that was expressed by the Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel, would be found by thousands as they found strength during the most turbulent period of the history of the Church.
As pilgrims on this journey we are discovering the beauty of the world around us and the deeper beauty of our faith. God’s gifts are to be shared with all, the beauty of this world and the gift of His grace are open to all who are willing to open their eyes, ears and hearts.Our Lord desires to be an intimate part of our life. God loves us no matter who we are and desires to deliver us from our suffering. Jesus did not come into the world for a privileged few. His salvation is not reserved for priest and nuns, Catholics or Christians, but for all who will open themselves to have faith in Him. As I am sure the residents of Croatia take for granted the beauty of their world and we in San Pedro do not realize how blessed we are, we as Catholic Christians can take for granted the gift of our faith. Sometimes it is the foreigners to our faiths, the converts, who help us appreciate how lucky we are to share in the gift of God’s grace.
As you read this message from your wandering pastor we should be ending our pilgrimage, leaving the city of Zadar for Zagreb. Tomorrow we will be celebrating Mass at Marija Bistrica for the Velike Gospe, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This old Marian Shrine of the Black Madonna is where Pope John Paul II beatified the Croatian Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac before 500,000 Croatians on October 3, 1998. I will be praying for all of the people of San Pedro as I hope you will be joining Bishop Joe Sartoris as he celebrates the Velike Gospe tomorrow night at 6:00 P.M. at our parish. Next Saturday, August 20, I will be back with you as we celebrate the Feast of St. John Joseph of the Cross at 9:00 A.M. These are occasions that we come together as a community to blessed we are as a community of faith and as the family of San Pedro. Please keep us in our prayer as we return home as I have been praying for all of you during this pilgrimage.
Rev. John F. Provenza