20th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A

16 August 2020
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7               Romans 11:13-15, 29-32               Matthew 15:21-28

This Gospel story makes us ask: ‘why did Jesus respond to the Canaanite woman in this way?

But perhaps rather than wondering if Jesus did the right thing or not in his response to the woman we will benefit more if we use this story to focus on our own life, our relationships and reactions to people who come across our path unexpectedly.

Jesus was in this area – a foreign environment – at the time because of the strong opposition of the Pharisees – he was rejected by the religious leaders.

  • How often have you found yourself in a strange environment?
  • When last did you feel like a stranger?
  • Do you meet people who are not part of your circle of friends or workgroup?
  • When last did you feel rejected?
  • Have you said or done something to cause others to feel rejected?

In our changing world new horizons open up daily as more and more people move from their own home base to new environments. New horizons may come about through personal choice or are forced on us by circumstances. The Covid-19 pandemic is making us face things in a new way. No matter which way they come they present a challenge.

The new environment, our personal “region of Tyre and Sidon” can be the place of new beginning just as it was for Jesus when he met the woman who kept asking for healing for her daughter. New beginnings happen when we get over the initial resistance to what comes at us or when we find ourselves challenged by new demands, new places, new cultures and new needs. While we may not be able to meet all the ways we or others would wish, we know that our choices do make a difference – we grow and others grow by creating a new beginning. And in relation to Covid-19 it is clear that each of us must not only exercise personal responsibility but also act in a responsible way for the benefit of those around us.

  • What new beginnings can you name in your life?
  • How has your life been enriched by new beginnings?
  • When last did you welcome a ‘stranger’, a rejected or self-rejecting person?
  • When did you say to someone, “you have great faith”?
  • How is your faith today?
  • Will you accept the task of acting responsibly in order to help defeat Covid-19?

Adapted from a Reflection of Fr John Dunne SMA, Kenya

Click on the play button below to listen to an alternative homily from Fr Tom Casey SMA