August 20, 2017: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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. (Matthew 15:21-28)
All of today’s readings tell us something about inclusion — including the Gentiles, including the foreigners, and in the gospel, including a woman from “outside” the chosen people. Jesus speaks of coming for the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” but he quickly recognizes that God’s will is to include all. What seems to move Jesus is an intimate face-to-face encounter with a mother who asks not for herself but for her daughter. As I reflect on this gospel I wonder — do I listen and let myself be touched by those outside my family, friends and community? Can I hear the pleas of those just asking to be accepted?
The world as we experience it today gives us ample opportunities to hear the cries of the immigrant, the refugee, the outsider. May we, like Jesus, listen and recognize that we are all the people of God.