Gospel Reflection Aug 14 – Deacon Frank
Sunday, August 16
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 15: 21 – 28
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.
A natural tension exists between the familiar and unfamiliar, the neighbor and stranger, our kind and every other kind. In our Gospel this weekend, even Jesus seems initially to have limited his mission to “the lost sheep” of Israel. A clever woman, a Canaanite, persuades Jesus to think outside the box on this issue. The Canaanite woman asked Jesus to help her daughter who had a problem. At first, Christ “…did not say a word in answer to her…” St. Matthew tells us. The woman goes on to say “…even the dogs eat the scraps from the table…” Eventually, being greatly impressed by the Gentile woman’s faith, Jesus restored her daughter to normality.
What are we to think when Christ seems silent in our situation? Should we use that time to “grow” our faith? Could it be an opportunity for us to make sure that we put first things first? Christ and his Kingdom’s work should always have a higher priority than our personal desires.
We are truly the beneficiaries of that decision Jesus makes to go beyond his mission to the “lost sheep of the house Israel” only – which meant only the Jewish people. Jesus, himself, knows that he came to save and heal EVERYONE– not just a select few. These days, as we wrestle with how much we’re obliged to help protect one another’s health and safety; share our personal treasures, our gifts, and talents; our land and its richness with others, we might consider “the scraps” that fell from the table to us over the centuries and be ready to use those gifts we have been given wisely in our mission as followers of Christ.
-Deacon Frank Iannarino