18 Aug 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
20th Sunday of the Year
Dear friends in Christ,
The theme for this Sunday’s readings is expressed in the Psalm response: “O God, let all the nations praise you.”
The woman in today’s Gospel is an upset mother who has been one suffering with her daughter “tormented by a demon.” As a pagan, she is well aware of the fact that pagans are badly despised by Jews who are very exclusive as to their claim on God. But she is bold enough to take the initiative of approaching Jesus, a Jew, for help.
At first glance, Jesus’ attitude seems hard to understand. He is unfriendly and his words harsh. He ignores her cry. The disciples also try to get rid of her. Since the woman keeps insisting, Jesus answers, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” He also tells her, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” The woman, however, does not give up, but on her knees she shouts louder: “Lord, help me.”
One of the tragedies of life is the walls people build around themselves to keep the world out, including about religious matters. Today’s Gospel story shows that Jesus has come to bring down walls. In the Gospel, the healing is not the main focus of the story, but the conversation between Jesus and the woman. Matthew wants his Jewish readers to be aware that Jesus has been sent not for them alone but for everybody.
At this moment, we think of all the mothers and fathers who are suffering with a daughter or a son “tormented by a demon.” With them let us cry out to Jesus, “Lord, Son of David, take pity on us.”