Reflection for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

from: The Monastery of Christ in the Desert (https://christdesert.org)

By kind permission of the Abbot.

Image result for Healing of cannanite womans daughter

 

FIRST READING Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

Thus says the Lord: Observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed. The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, ministering to him, loving the name of the Lord, and becoming his servants-all who keep the sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

SECOND READING Romans 11:13-15, 29-32

Brothers and sisters: I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.

GOSPEL 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.

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Today the readings give us teaching about non-Jewish people being redeemed. For most of us, that is something that we have always believed. But we need to remember that this was a new idea for many at the time of Jesus. The Prophets had foretold that salvation would go to the nations, those who were not born of Jewish blood. Nevertheless, the Jewish people were not quick to accept this teaching. Even Jesus often speaks and tells us that He was sent for “His own people,” the Jewish people, as we hear in today’s Gospel.

Even today, we can find people who believe that all who are not Catholic will go to Hell. This is clearly against the Catholic teaching. On the other hand, there is no teaching that says that all will be saved, and especially that all will be saved without doing anything. There must be some response to God, even if it is not clear to the person. But God’s mercy is incredible. Just as in the time of Jesus, Jesus Himself could open wider the doors of salvation, so now the Church can open wide the doors of salvation: but it is always through Jesus and through His Church.

The first reading today is from the Prophet Isaiah and proclaims to the Jewish people of that time that outsiders could be saved: “The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, ministering to him, loving the name of the Lord, and becoming his servants-all who keep the Sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer.” These are foreigners who seem to remain foreigners and yet follow the ways of the Jewish people. The point of the Prophet Isaiah is that all can be saved. Yet he is not saying that all are saved.

The second reading is from the Letter to the Romans and basically emphasizes once again that non-Jews can be saved and invited to salvation in Jesus Christ. One of the points that Saint Paul is making is that God’s Covenant with the Jewish People is irrevocable and still in place. We must always remember that our salvation has come through the Jewish people and that our New Covenant does not invalidate the Old Covenant with them.

Finally the Gospel of Matthew presents us with a Canaanite woman. This woman clearly loves her daughter and wants healing for her daughter. She loves her daughter enough that she is willing to accost Jesus and even argue with him for the healing of her daughter. The words of Jesus to her sound harsh to us but are also a lesson to us: faith happens and is not confined to the Jewish people or to the Christian people. Faith can be present, even faith in Jesus, without a complete belief in the ways that we might wish.

It is clear, however, that the normal way to God is through Jesus Christ and through His Church. Today everyone wants to be the exception and this seems often only from insecurity. Rather we need to become secure enough in God’s love that we can become ordinary believers.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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7 Responses to Reflection for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  1. kathleen says:

    Jesus Himself could open wider the doors of salvation, so now the Church can open wide the doors of salvation: but it is always through Jesus and through His Church.

    This (in bold) is the Truth as the Church has always taught us.
    But as mmvc’s recent post reveals, Our Lord Jesus Christ can, and surely will, in Justice, lead to Heaven whomsoever is worthy of salvation…. This will be through Jesus, the Saviour, and “always through His Church”, though we may be quite unaware of the person’s conversion at the moment of death when the soul faces its final choice for eternity!

  2. Mary Salmond says:

    Another great reflection. Especially tying in all 3 readings and making meaning to our lives. The abbot makes it relevant to today’s world view and how anyone can be saved regardless of denomination but it must be through Jesus Christ and his Church.

  3. Roger says:

    Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, para. 29: “…the New Testament took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished…but on the gibbet of His death Jesus made void the Law with its decrees fastened the handwriting of the Old Testament to the Cross”;

    THE OLD LAW COULDN’T OPEN HEAVEN. It couldn’t remove the Original Sin. The Old Law didn’t have sacramentals neither did it know of the Trinity, which was revealed through Christ. If a Christian worships in a synagogue they are actually denying the Messiah!
    If you love your neighbour why would you want to leave them outside of the Law Of Grace?
    The Church is the mystical Body Of Christ NOT Abraham. Abraham was saved through Christ.
    What the Old Law did was prepare for the coming of the Messiah and Our Lord first preached to them until they unequivically rejected Him so the Apostles wiped their feet as the exited Israel and turned to the Gentiles. Then as prophecised by Our Lord Jerusalem was destroyed.

  4. toadspittle says:

    GOSPEL Matthew 15:21-28
    What a bizarre message.
    Christ doesn’t seem to emerge from it particularly well, as far as I can see. The whole idea seems wierdly racist.
    Which is probably the wrong way to see it.
    But still.

    Anyway, dogs much prefer the scraps from their master’s table – than they do their own dinners.
    Most of us do, in fact. They taste better. Ask any Trump supporter.

  5. Roger says:

    Well the whole Matthew Chapter 15 is to be recomended.
    Take the following and consider Human Rights and Evolution and Birth Control etc.. etc.. which are preached and taught as Gospel.
    Matthew 15
    8. This people honoreth me with their lips: but their heart is far from me.
    9. And in vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and commandments of men.
    10. And having called together the multitudes unto him, he said unto them, Hear ye and understand.
    11. Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth a man: but that which proceedeth out of the mouth. that defileth a man:

  6. toadspittle says:

    “..though we may be quite unaware of the person’s conversion at the moment of death …”
    Are we saying, then – that if Gandhi, for example, as a paradigm of a saintly non-Christian, – had converted in his last second – he’d be off to Heaven?
    …Otherwise he wouldn’t? That God shows people at that final point what they have missed during life?
    Why not show them at birth? Wouldn’t that make more sense?
    (No, Toad. Couurse not.)

  7. Roger says:

    The Human soul is created by God in Eternity and knows God and the Natural Law (thou shalt not) this is common to all Men. The soul has no age. Man is Body, Spirit, Soul. Have you forgotten Dawkins talks of the Religious Gene in Man in fact spends most of his time trying to disprove the spirit and the soul doesn’t he?

    Gandhi? only Heaven knows! The only certainty is that the Church is the mystical Body of Christ and there is NO salvation outside of the Church. Away with false Ecumenism that leaves Man outside of the Church.

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