August 16, 2020

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s gospel passage Jesus leaves Palestine and withdraws to the region of Tyre and Sidon, Gentile territory. A Canaanite woman begins to follow him, calling out over and over again, Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David. My daughter is tormented by a demon. It’s noteworthy that she’s addressing him as the Messiah, the Son of David!

He ignores her, but she’s persistent! When the disciples ask Jesus to send her away, he reminds them that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Having said that, he should have sent her away, but he didn’t. Instead, he tells her that, It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs. This sounds so unlike Jesus to us. But the word Jesus uses for dogs is playful, not insulting. A better translation would be doggies, tiny lap dogs!

The woman picks up on his ironic joke. Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters. Impressed by the depth of her faith, he instantly cures her daughter.

In this dark time of national populism, when even Christians silently tolerate our government locking up children in cages because “they’re not one of us,” this passage is particularly poignant.

In the society Jesus lived in, the world was clearly divided, “them and us.” It’s clear that Jesus didn’t follow these populist traditions so ingrained in his society. He suffered for his position. He traveled outside of Palestine, cured many Gentiles, and even praised the depth of their faith, as witnessed in the passage today.

Today, let’s think about the “them and us” phenomenon tragically deteriorating our country’s ideals. Let’s ask ourselves to what extent we’ve bought into that dynamic. How can I permit Jesus to heal this situation through me?

Let Us Pray:

Lord Jesus, Son of David, you healed the Roman centurion’s slave, the Samaritan leper, the Gerasene demonic. You offered eternal life to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. I beg you to heal my heart and the heart of my country. Cleanse the stains of racism and privilege from my mind and heart and soul. Please give me the strength to suffer as you suffered when you reached out to the foreigner and the outcast. Lord Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner.


Daily Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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About John Kamas, SSS

Father Kamas is pastor of Saint Jean Baptiste Church in New York City, New York.