16TH AUGUST, 2020.
†20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Is 56:1, 6-7/Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6&8/Rom 11:13-15, 29-32/Mat 15:21-28
(Rev Fr Isaac Kofi Amponsah-Boateng, CSSp; Director, Holy Ghost Schools-Makueni, Sultan Hamud, Machakos Diocese)
In today’s Gospel, we see an encounter between Jesus and Syro-Phoenician (Canaanite) woman. Not only was she a Gentile but also a Canaanite. And to understand this said encounter very well, it is important to know that prior to Jesus’ time, there was an unresolved conflict between Israelites and Canaanites.
The Canaanites had drawn Israelites away from their faith in the Lord and seduced them into worshipping the god of Baal which the end result was doom and disaster for Israelites. This created a serious enmity between the two. Surely, it is not only familiarity that breeds contempt; unresolved conflict also breeds contempt. But what is so striking is that this Canaanite woman beat the odds to approach Jesus for help for her possessed daughter though she was fully aware of the ill-relationship between her people and the Jews. Initially, Jesus seemed to be harsh on the woman from his reply to the woman’s request,
“It is not fair to throw the children’s bread into dogs.” The woman acknowledged, but knowing what she wanted, she remained focused and persisted to say that dogs can enjoy crumbs that fall from the dining table.
The Akan proverb goes that, “the one who wishes to drink water from the river does not consider the dirty river bank.” The woman’s humble persistence made Jesus unable to argue further but to help her. Her deep rooted faith was rewarded with healing for her daughter. Napoleon Hill says that, “patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”
Jesus granted the woman’s request to fulfil what Isaiah says in the 1st Reading that God is the Father of all, so foreigners will also be brought to God’s mountain as opposed to Israel’s preconceived notion that God was for Israel alone. Anyone who encounters the Trinitarian God is able to go beyond his/her family or cultural ties and reach out to others.
Paul tells us in the 2nd Reading that it is God’s own initiative that all who express faith in Him be saved. So to say, salvation is not a result of privilege or just belonging to a particular group of people, but because God wills.
~•That our humble persistence in prayer may never go unanswered
~•That our plans and actions may work for the progress and development of all peoples
~•That all may be comforted in this pandemic.
Lord hear us