Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28

First Reading: In the first reading, God invites all people to come and share in the promises made to Israel. Not only the Jewish people, but everyone is invited to keep the covenant and enter God’s house, which is open not to a single tribe, but to all people. Isaiah’s vision should be our vision for our churches: God’s house is “a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Psalm 67: Psalm 67 calls upon all the nations to praise God, who is king over all peoples and nations.

Second Reading: In the second reading, St. Paul continues his reflection on the Jewish people – his people. He knows that Christ is the source of salvation; and he knows that God’s promises are “irrevocable.” Not all accept Christ, or turn towards him; but God desires to “have mercy upon all.”

Gospel: In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ healing of the Canaanite woman’s daughter (tormented by a demon) brings to the surface many issues concerning the relationship between Jews and Gentiles. The consequences of breaking boundaries seem to enlighten all to the nature of God and the ministry of Jesus.

Reflection: Today’s Gospel of the healing of the Canaanite woman’s daughter from a demon, is paired with the First Reading because of its emphasis on the extension of faith to Gentiles. Just as in the first reading foreigners who joined themselves to the Lord were welcomed as part of the Lord’s house of prayer, so too, the Gentile woman who professed her faith in Jesus, saw herself welcomed by the Lord through her daughter’s healing. In essence, barriers were broken.

The consequences of breaking boundaries seem to enlighten all to the nature of God and the ministry of Jesus. Jesus crosses into Gentile territory (Tyre and Sidon) and a woman from a nation (Canaan) historically despised by Jews approaches him on behalf of her sick daughter. Both actions would have been seen as culturally negative. Yet, through the dialogue and interaction that ensues, both parties, along with the disciples and Matthew’s community, learn an important lesson. Jesus displays the typical Jewish mindset that his ministry and God’s salvation are exclusively for the Jews, referring to her as a dog, the common slur of Jews toward Gentiles. This closed mindset does not deter a mother’s love, as she reminds Jesus that even the dogs are fed scraps from the children’s table. Her faith overwhelms Jesus, who directly heals her daughter. Thus, we learn that Jews and Gentiles alike are part of God’s family.

Are we living as “one” in our own community? Living the Gospel means that we need to work to increase our unity with one another, which in turn draws us to reach out to others in mercy and compassion, no matter who they are, just like Jesus!

Question for reflection: How is my discipleship reflective of Jesus and today’s Gospel Reading?

Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.

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