Reflection for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 20, 2023

Faith, Humility, Trust, Love

Matthew’s writing is a bit disturbing. The disciples are trying to get Jesus not to bother with the Canaanite woman because she is a non-Jew, and then his answer seems rude, saying, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;” but there is a reason why Matthew writes about this story.

First, to understand the Gospel, we need to know who the Canaanites are and who are the dogs mentioned in the story. The Canaanites were the ancestral enemies of the Israelites. “Dogs” was a name for the Gentiles.

The Canaanite woman obviously had heard about Jesus and knows who he is, calling him “Lord, Son of David,” and knows what he is able to do (miracles), and knows she is in the presence of someone very special. Because she loves her daughter who is tormented by a demon, and being a woman of great faith, she is begging humbly for her daughter, not for herself, shouting out to him persistently, placing all her trust in him.  She manages to change his mind and moves his heart by playing on the meaning of the words to get Jesus “to feed the dogs”.

Jesus breaks tradition and praises the great faith of the woman. He shows his power as he casts out a demon with merely a word.

This story tells us that God cares for all peoples. It tells us about the inclusion of the Gentiles, the non-Jews. “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples”, and he is “merciful to all.”

Lord Jesus, teach me to be humble, to be open, to listen, to deepen my faith as I place my trust in you. Teach me to pray from my heart. I read that love, faith, trust, and humility are the secret ingredients for prayer that moves the heart of God – even a prayer as simple as, “Lord, help me.”

Rosella Kinoshameg DOS

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