Aug 16 2020 Reflection
Sunday 16 August 2020
First Reading: IS 56:1, 6-7
O God, let all the nations praise you!
PS 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Second Reading: ROM 11:13-15, 29-32
Gospel Reading: MT 15:21-28
Today’s Note: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.
My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. (Isaiah 56:7)
All of today’s readings tell us that God’s salvation is meant for everyone. The prophet Isaiah speaks of foreigners who will join themselves to the Lord (56:6). The psalmist declares, “May the peoples praise you, O God” (Psalm 67:6). Jesus praises a Canaanite woman’s faith (Matthew 15:28). And Paul, apostle to the Gentiles, proclaims that God wants to “have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:32).
For the Jewish people in today’s first reading, this must have been difficult to accept. They had just returned from exile to discover foreigners living in their holy city, Jerusalem. Their covenant told them that they were set apart as a holy people chosen by God. So how could “impure” Gentiles be living on their land? They forgot that God had chosen them by his grace, not just for their own sake, but to bring his light to every nation.
This call became increasingly clear in the early Church. Initially, all of Jesus’ followers were Jewish. But as Gentiles came to believe in the Lord, the Jewish Christians began to understand that God’s plan of salvation was far bigger than they had expected. Learning to live and work and pray alongside Gentiles could not have been easy. But they, like us, had to allow God’s grace to help them love each other. The result? The diverse, beautiful, sometimes messy Church we know today.
Jesus wants his Church to be a house of prayer for all nations so that every person can belong to his family. He sees people who are searching for hope, meaning, and a place to meet God, and he is asking us to draw them in, to be the loving, welcoming face of the Church. May we always be open to everyone who is seeking the Lord, and through us, may God’s grace flow out to the entire world!
“Jesus, help me to show everyone the love that you have given me.”