Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 16
Such Is the Divine Will of God That All His Children Should Come to Know and Love Him and Experience the Wonder of His Limitless and Unfathomable Mercy.
“It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” – words which we heard almost two weeks ago, but words which take upon themselves a much deeper meaning when compared to our other Readings today.
As I had mentioned before, every now and then we come across a Scripture passage, which, on its surface, defies reasonable explanation. Yet, when we dig more deeply into the history of what was said and the culture that was lived, we then can begin to gain a greater clarity and a deeper understanding of a very difficult Biblical passage, especially when they are words which our Lord is speaking.
And, in order for us to better reflect upon the meaning behind Jesus’ response, we need to first appreciate the mission for which Our Lord was sent by the Eternal Father, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
And in a previous chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, we read, “Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, ‘Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town; Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’”
Our Lord was initially limiting His mission to those who worshiped the one true God, His Father, for we must remember that His mission on Earth lasted for but a brief three years, and His mode of transportation was primarily on foot, donkey or possibly camel. It was not that He could just hop into a car and zoom off to the next city! Traveling from one place to another oftentimes took several days.
Ultimately, the responsibility of fulfilling our Lord’s command before His Ascension into Heaven, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” was left to His Apostles and those whom they appointed. For we read in the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles about how God’s Truth was spread throughout much of the Gentile communities beyond Judea and Galilee.
And when we hear God’s words in our First Reading, given to us in prophecy, we can see their fulfillment in the New Covenant, “The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD, and becoming his servants…I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer.”
“It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” Difficult words to hear, until we begin to better understand the mind of God.
The Canaanite woman, whom we read about in today’s Gospel and whose daughter was possessed by a demon and freed from its possession by our Lord, was what was called a Phoenician, a resident from the land of Canaan, pagan territory in which the Canaanites practiced all forms of idolatry.
And it was not uncommon for the Jews to look down upon the Canaanites, because of their idolatrous practices, and refer to them as “dogs” – for the traditional Jews felt that the Gentiles were excluded from God’s Covenant and favor with Israel.
But Saint John Chrysostom, one of the early Father’s and a Doctor of the Church puts a slightly different slant on the harshness of these words and writes, “This was the cause why Christ was so backward [meaning harshness], that He knew what she would say, and would not have her so great excellence hid.”
In other words, Our Lord knew the deep faith that this woman held in her heart as to what He could do for her and for her daughter. For it was through her great love for her daughter, imitating the Love which God has for His children, that the mother persevered, humbling herself before a man she knew to be a great prophet, emptying herself before Jesus with the words, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”
In such humility, due to a mother’s love and desperation for her daughter’s well-being, Jesus sees the Spirit of the Living God in her and responds, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
In the plea of this Canaanite woman, and in the healing of her daughter, we hear the song of praise that our psalmist gives us today in our Responsorial Psalm, “May God have pity on us and bless us; may he let his face shine upon us. So may your way be known upon earth; among all nations, your salvation.”
Another translation reads, “May God be gracious to us and bless us…” Our faith teaches us that, no matter how badly we sin, or how deeply we descend into the realm of Satan’s darkness, we are still God’s children, and it is His will that none should be lost!
Such is the will of God that all His children should come to know and love Him. Such is the Divine will of God that He should bless us with His limitless and unfathomable Mercy, constantly guiding each of us into an ever closer communion with Himself!
Saint Paul, in writing to both Gentiles and Jews in our Second Reading today from his Letter to the Romans, is speaking of God’s Mercy, not just for the House of Israel, but for all of God’s children. For, it is through the Divine Mercy of Almighty God, that each of us, no matter how badly we may have fallen, are offered deliverance from sin and reconciled to His Love. For we read in Paul’s letter, “For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.”
When we look around us today, living in a world which at times seems void of any recognition of sin, a world and a society which is saturated with materialistic and hedonistic pleasures, a world in which the sanctity of life and wholesome family values are constantly in jeopardy, a world which is filled with so much violence and hearts darkened with hatred, we recognize the GREAT need for God’s Mercy!
And when we look at today’s society, and the direction in which it seems to be heading, how many individuals or entire families are living a life steeped in spiritual darkness, all because they have no desire or need for a God who loves them, a God who only asks for their love and obedience to His Laws and Commandments, so that they may, one day, share in His gift of eternal life?
Yet, when we reflect upon today’s Readings, the common theme which seems to thread its way throughout today’s Scripture is God’s invitation to ALL His children to partake of His saving Love, inviting us, waiting for us to cry out with the same words which we hear in today’s Gospel, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!”
And then our Lord will joyfully respond to each one of us, “O woman [O son, O daughter], great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And we, in turn, with joyful hearts, will respond with the words we read in today’s Responsorial, “May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you!”
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “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.’…He said in reply, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’” (Matthew 15:22, 24)
- “But the woman came and did him 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.’” (Matthew 15:25-26)
- 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 her daughter was healed from that hour.” (Matthew 15:27-28)
- “And foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, to become his servants…Them I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer.” (Isaiah 56:6ab, 7a)
- “May God be gracious to us and bless us; may his face shine upon us. So shall your way be known upon earth, your victory among all the nations.” (Psalm 67:2-3)
- “For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.” (Romans 11:32)
- “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ…” (Ephesians 2:4-5b)
- “Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy.” (Hebrews 10:23)
- “Your word, LORD, stands forever; it is firm as the heavens. Through all generations your truth endures.” (Psalm 119:89-90a)
- “May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you!” (Psalm 67:6)
Prayer for the Day
“O Greatly Merciful God, Infinite Goodness,
today all mankind calls out from the abyss of its misery
to Your mercy – to Your compassion, O God;
and it is with its mighty voice of misery that it cries out.
do not reject the prayer of this earth’s exiles!
O Lord, Goodness beyond our understanding,
Who are acquainted with our misery through and through,
and know that by our own power we cannot ascend to You.
“We implore You: anticipate us with Your grace
and keep on increasing Your mercy in us,
that we may faithfully do Your holy will
all through our life and at death’s hour.
“Let the omnipotence of Your mercy
shield us from the darts of our salvation’s enemies,
that we may, with confidence, as Your children,
await Your final coming – that day known to You alone.
And we expect to obtain everything promised us by Jesus
in spite of all our wretchedness.
“For Jesus is our Hope:Prayer for Divine Mercy (Saint Faustina, Diary, §1570)
Through His merciful Heart, as through an open gate,
we pass through to Heaven.”