Sunday August 20
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
We belong to God’s family
  • Isaiah 56:1,6-7
  • Psalm 67:2-3,5-6,8
  • Romans 11:13-15,29-32
  • Matthew 15:21-28

People who travel to other countries for various reasons often find out that being a foreigner in another land has its disadvantages. During the time of Prophet Isaiah, to be a foreigner in Israel meant a life of disadvantages. From a Jewish perspective, a foreigner had no place in the Kingdom of God.

Today we need not be foreigners to be at disadvantage. One’s race or colour can become a disadvantage. One can be a foreigner in one’s own country or even among one’s family members. God’s heart about foreigners is revealed in today’s first reading. God reveals his heart for those of us who have lived as foreigners, whether it is in another country or in our own homes among our family members, or at our workplaces.
In today’s Gospel proclamation we find a desperate mother. Her daughter was demon possessed and tormented for years. It was out of desperation that she reached out to the Lord. She knew there was a good chance that he would not help her because he was a Jew, and she was a Canaanite. She called out to him, but he refused to help.

The words of the Lord sound hurtful, but it had a strange effect on her. Her pride, her humiliation, her enmity against the Jews was taken over by her desperation as she cried out “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table”. That was the moment in which she changed from being a ‘Gentile’ to a member of the ‘Family of God’. The feet of the Lord became the holy mountain of God. He accepted her sacrifice of a broken spirit and a contrite heart and he answered her prayer.

When things are going well in our lives it is easy to trust in the Lord, but when things are bad and we become foreigners we may blame the Lord, question him, and lose faith. This woman is an example of how we must have faith in the Lord Jesus, even through struggles and disappointments. The Lord could not pass her by because of her faith in him. The Lord is reminding us that it is easy to let him pass us by when we are spiritually distracted, when our focus has shifted from him and when pride and arrogance rule our hearts.

The Lord Jesus calls us to pray for an increase in our faith that we too may be able to respond as this woman responded to God. He is remind- ing us to remain there like the Canaanite woman until his feet become the doorway to his holy mountain, where our sacrifices are accepted, and our prayers are answered. Let us approach him in humility, knowing that he will not reject a humble cry.
Prayer: Abba Father, give us the grace and wisdom to enter your holy mountain. Amen.

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