Gather us in
Posted by prepareformass on August 10, 2008
Prepare for Mass – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
The blessings of the covenant between God and His people are received through faith. The fulfillment of the covenant is for all of mankind. In Is 56:1, 6-7 we read about the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord and their sacrifices are acceptable to the Lord. Psalm 67:3 says “So shall your rule be known upon the earth, your saving power among all the nations.” Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, said about them, “for if God did not spare the natural branches, (perhaps) he will not spare you either.”
Jesus has an encounter with a Canaanite women in the region of Tyre and Sidon. This was a gentile region. This woman, a foreigner and a woman of great faith, was appealing for Jesus to heal her daughter who was possessed by a demon.
In the exchange between Jesus and the Canaanite woman, there were three appeals made by the woman and it was after the third plea that Jesus healed her daughter after remarking on her “great faith”. She did not give up. She did not doubt. She knew who she was dealing with. She was given a test of faith and she passed with high honors.
The first test. First the Canaanite woman said, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” (Mt 15:22) Jesus ignored her first plea. “But he did not say a word in answer to her.” (Mt 15:23)
The second test. The woman said “Lord, help me.” (Mt 15:25) Jesus replied “it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” The woman didn’t get insulted by the fact that Jesus was referring the word “children” as the people of Israel and the word “dog” as a reference to the contempt that Jews had for the people of her lineage.
The third test. The woman replied “please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Mt 15:27). Jesus replied “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” (Mt 15:28)
As we see in Mt 15:24, Jesus focused mainly on calling together the chosen people of Israel. He appointed twelve, the number being significant to the number of tribes of Israel. He sent them to preach and gave them authority to cast out demons. It is after His Resurrection that He tells them to go and make disciples of all nations. The Church is the pillar and bulwark of Truth.
Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 171 The Church, “the pillar and bulwark of the truth”, faithfully guards “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints”. She guards the memory of Christ’s words; it is she who from generation to generation hands on the apostles’ confession of faith. As a mother who teaches her children to speak and so to understand and communicate, the Church our Mother teaches us the language of faith in order to introduce us to the understanding and the life of faith.