Saturday, August 13, 2005
20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
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AUGUST 14, 2005
20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - A
ISAIAH 56:1, 6-7
Thus says the LORD: Observe what is right, do what is just; for my
salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed. The
foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, ministering to him, loving
the name of the LORD, and becoming his servants-- all who keep the
sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will
bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their
burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my
house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
ROMANS 11:13-15, 29-32
Brothers and sisters: I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am
the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry in order to make my
race jealous and thus save some of them. For if their rejection is the
reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life
from the dead? For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just
as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their
disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of
the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God
delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.
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 word "we" and "ours" have two translations in the Pilipino
language, which have a far-reaching consequences in human
relationships. The word "we" can mean "tayo" or "kami." If I
say "tayo" - you are included. When I say "Kami" it eans "we" but
you are not included. Same with "Atin" meaning "ours" including you,
and "Amin" - excluding you.
As children we have barkada (gangs), which are often exclusive. We
have certain exclusiveness among the people we go around with. We told
people, who wanted to join us by saying "kami-kami lang `yan." (It's
only among ourselves. You are not included.) This carries to our
adulthood in the street gang memberships, social clubs, and exclusive
neighborhood associations. You need a gate pass to go through the
neighborhood, para sa amin lang `yan (for ours only).
The first Christians were Jews, and some of them believed that only
Jews could be Christians. Today's Gospel was preached in the early
Church to correct this attitude of exclusiveness. The Canaanite woman
is non-Jewish. Yet Jesus made a miracle in her favor because of her
great faith. And so for us, whatever our sinfulness and our religious
situation, we can obtain anything from Christ if we have enough faith.
So to better appreciate the Gospel passage, let look at the
characters involved. First, let us look at the disciples and the Jews
in general, secondly, the Canaanite woman, and Finally, Jesus.
First, the disciples, who were Jews - With their religious
background, they considered themselves as the "chosen people" of God.
The non-Jews are excluded from the mercy of God, from
salvation. The reason why the people at the synagogue in Nazareth
tried to kill Jesus was because Jesus insinuated that God chose the
pagans over the Jews for His miracles by giving the examples the widow
of Zarephath, and Naaman, the Syrian. This is another significant event
by which Jesus shows that God's love and mercy is all embracing. No
one is outside the embrace of God's love.
Secondly, we look at the Canaanite woman. The Canaanites were the
enemies of the Jews since the time of Abraham in the Old Testament.
There was opposition between Jews and Canaanites. The Jews were the
chosen people of God, and the Canaanites were the sinful people to be
But the Canaanite woman had love. She made the misery of her child her
own. It was a mother's love, which drove her to approach this Jewish
stranger, made her, accept his silent rejection and yet still continued
her appeal. It was her love, which made her see the compassion beyond
the harsh words of Jesus. The driving force of this woman's heart was
love; and there is nothing stronger and nothing nearer God than love.
The Canaanite woman was a woman of strong faith. Her faith grew in
contact with Jesus. She began by calling Jesus Son of David, a
political title. She came asking a favor from a powerful
wonder-worker, from a great and powerful man. She ends by calling him
Some people do not really believe in prayer. They have only the
feeling that something might just possibly happen, and they do not want
to miss a chance. With this woman, Jesus was not just a possible
helper. He was her only hope. This woman had the only supremely
effective quality in prayer - she was deadly serious. Prayer for her
was no ritual form; it was the outpouring of the passionate heart,
which cannot take "no" for an answer.
Finally we turn to Jesus. Jesus had retired to the pagan territory of
Tyre and Sidon, when the Canaanite woman approached him. It seems that
Jesus went to this pagan territory to meet this pagan woman. Although
Jesus' initial reaction to her pleas was harsh, and quite inconsistent
with the kind compassionate Jesus we know, but consistent with the
typical Jewish attitude: First, he ignored her saying "I was sent only
to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," (Matt. 15:24) then rejected
her by saying, "It is not right to take
the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." (Matt. 15:26)
But the pagan woman has unshakable faith. She was ignored and
humiliated. Yet, under this almost cruel treatment she remained firm
and unshakable. True faith overcomes all difficulties and puts up with
Some Scripture scholars noted that the word Jesus used for "dog" was
not the pejorative word translated as Askal (street dog), but an
endearing word translated as "tuta" (a puppy or pet dog), thereby
encouraging the woman to cleverly retort saying, "Please, Lord, for
even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their
Jesus then turned around and praised the strong faith of the
woman, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done as you wish,"
What can we learn from today's Gospel reading? Among others, two
things: first, God's saving love is inclusive. It seeks to embrace
all peoples, all races, of all situations. People have a tendency to
be exclusive, keeping out certain groups of people, like a sealed
bottle of perfume that keeps all the fragrance inside.
God's love is like an open bottle of perfume that seeks to diffuse its
fragrance far and wide. We must learn to be like God in our love and
caring for others.
Jesus invites us to receive him in the Eucharist. He yearns to unite
to himself all who will accept him in faith. If others are good enough
for Jesus, they should be good enough for us. Before receiving Jesus
together, we will be invited to offer each other the sign of peace. We
should offer this sign with sincerity even if we do not know the person
next to us. This sign of peace is a seal and a pledge of the
fellowship and unity, which are found in our common reception of the
body of Christ.
Secondly, we can learn about faith and perseverance in prayer from the
Canaanite woman. We must not be discouraged in our prayer, when God
does not give us what we want. We know that God is not a grudging
giver that any favor has to be wrestled out of His hand by novenas and
magic formulas of prayer. God loves and cares for us, and always wants
to give us what is good for us.
When we don't immediately get a "Yes" to our prayers. It may not just
be because we are asking for the wrong thing, but sometimes God wants
our faith to grow stronger. He wants us to show our trust in Him in
spite of the delay. He doesn't mind when we make "kulit," especially
when our pestering is driven by our love and concern for others.
Let us close with this inscription found on the cellar walls of a
bombed-out house in Cologne, Germany during the Second World War.
Fugitive Jews, who used the basement to hide from the Nazis, had
apparently written it there.
The inscription read:
"I believe in the sun even when it is not shining.
I believe in love even when I feel it not.
I believe in God even when he is silent."
We pray ...
- for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the
- for the eternal repose of the soul of Mrs. Tan Poe. Eternal rest
grant unto her and may perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in
- for the speedy recovery and healing of BB, Nathan, Lloyd, Mary, Ann,
Tracy, Binnie's sister, Bobbie's mom.
- Thanksgiving: Richmond Sy
- for the personal intentions of Genevieve.
- for the speedy recovery and safekeeping of Martin Allen Kunz.
- for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- Wedding Anniversary: Mr. & Mrs. J. Victory & Olivia Dy Sun
- for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our
prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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