Homily :: August 20, 2017
08/20/17: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
08/20/17: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr Dave Reeson
(4:01, 3.67 MB MB)
08/20/17: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr Pat Nields
(8:42, 7.97 MB)
Today’s Gospel presents us with a harsh image of Jesus, who calls the woman, begging on behalf of her daughter, a dog. The key to understanding the nature of Jesus’ reaction deals fundamentally with the status of Israel as the chosen people of God.
The Old Testament describes in detail the relationship between God and Israel. At God’s initiative, they are in covenant with each other forever: God is Israel’s God; and Israel is God’s people. Notice the absence of reference to Gentiles in this framework!
Isaiah, however, proclaims a message of hope that non-Jews might also be saved. This is especially good news for us. Isaiah indicates that “foreigners who join themselves to the Lord… and hold to [his] covenant” are acceptable before God. In this way Gentiles enter into the covenant.
Our model par excellence in this endeavor is the Canaanite woman of today’s Gospel reading. As a non-Jew, she is, decidedly, outside of the fold (as Jesus’ comments indicate). Nonetheless, she comes, as a Gentile on Jewish soil, to the God of Israel in the person of Jesus, the Jew. She addresses him as “Lord,” and prays to him using the language of the Jewish prayer book, the psalms.
Because of her persistent prayer, and her faith in Jesus to answer these prayers, her requests are heard. By placing ourselves at the mercy of God in Christ, we hope that we might participate in the covenant. This is the reason by which we hope, in the words of the psalmist, that God might “have pity on us and bless us [and] let his face shine upon us.”
By Dave Pitt © 2003, OCP. All rights reserved.