Fr Vincent's reflections on the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
On this 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus teaches us, again, that every person deserves our kindness and generosity. Will we truly see his example and listen to his message this time?”
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20th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, let us pray:
O God, you have prepared for those who love you
good things which no eye can see,
fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love,
so that, loving you in all things and above all things,
we may attain your promises,
which surpass every human desire.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
As before, if you don’t have your Bible with you, please pause this video to retrieve your Bible so you can follow along. The Gospel today is Matthew 15:21-28.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
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.
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
When hearing this Gospel passage, the first question most people ask is: how could Jesus ignore this woman? We are used to Jesus showing mercy to everyone – he even gives the parable of the “Good Samaritan” as a way to teach that every person is our neighbor deserving of respect and love. But, what is true for today was just as true then: people don’t listen as well as they see. So Jesus had to act first as the crowd expected, that is, ignore the foreigner and treat her with disrespect. So that, when he acted justly, to heal the woman’s daughter, the crowd would hopefully catch on to what Jesus expected them to do.
Sadly, we are back to hearing without listening and not even seeing as plainly as we should. We have all heard the Good Samaritan parable, and we have heard this action of Jesus – healing a foreigner to prove God’s love for all people. But when it comes to personal choices and my actions, you and I sometimes seem to forget to apply Jesus’ words and actions to our lives. “In this circumstance I am sure Jesus would be OK with me doing things my way,” we can tell ourselves, and excuse our judgmental thoughts, or words, or actions.
There is so much turmoil in this world right now: from the covid pandemic and the expectations that we inconvenience ourselves with masks and social distancing; to the ongoing movement on the part of Black Americans to be treated with equality and respect; to the worries that personal finances are being used up faster than we can earn it back. It is easy to feel lost in the negative thoughts and feelings to the point where we don’t want the pressure to be kind and thoughtful! We’d rather say, “Leave me alone!” and ignore the world the way the crowd wanted Jesus to ignore the woman.
Yet, even if I too can feel that way at times, Jesus acting in kindness to that woman provides a real answer to me and you. I want this covid business to disappear, but until it does, I will follow the protocols, and I feel good choosing to wear a mask in public; it’s a small sacrifice to love my neighbor, even a stranger. I too want societal peace; yet listening and reflecting on the experiences and emotions of my fellow Black countrymen gives me the opportunity to make choices, as small as they might be, to work toward a society of justice and peace. I, too, fear the political, social, and economic environment, but by choosing to make decisions which serve the best interests of the country and not only myself I can live a generous life free from fear about an unknown future.
The world is a scary place right now, but acting with love for all people as Jesus did gives me a peace and strength to my soul, and a hope that others will act the same, spreading the Gospel not with words alone, but with well lived lives. To do as Jesus did is to make Jesus present in a world that needs his actions of kindness and generosity to each and every person.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.