Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

Engaging Faith | Sat, Aug 6, 2011

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary notes for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]


 August 14, 2011






     Isaiah 56:1, 6-7


     Romans 11:13-15, 29-32


     Matthew 15:21-28






August 1 to 29: Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan


August 11: Feast of Clare of Assisi


August 14: Feast of Maximilian Mary Kolbe


August 15: Feast of the Assumption of Mary


August 23: International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition








This is the mystery of our Church, that all men and women are brothers and sisters, all one in Christ, all bear the image of the Eternal God.


-US Catholic Bishops




The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of freedom and a force for liberation. In recent years, this essential truth has become the object of reflection for theologians, with a new kind of attention which is itself full of promise.


Instruction on Certain Aspects of the "Theology of Liberation"


Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith




“Women are equally created in the image and likeness of God, equally redeemed by Christ, equally sanctified by the Holy Spirit; women are equally involved in the ongoing tragedy of sin and the mystery of grace, equally called to mission in this world, equally destined for life with God in glory.”


Elizabeth Johnson CSJ She Who Is, 8




The one gift of salvation coming from God through Jesus-Sophia in the Spirit upends power relationships, transforming all teachers, fathers, masters, great ones into servants of the little ones.


Elizabeth Johnson CSJ She Who Is, 82






Every perspective on economic life that is human, moral, and Christian must be shaped by three questions: What does the economy do for people? What does it do to people? And how do people participate in it? The economy is a human reality: men and women working together to develop and care for the whole of God's creation. All this work must service the material and spiritual wellbeing of people.


US Bishops, Economic Justice for All, #1





Thoughts for your consideration




In today’s gospel, the Canaanite woman dares to approach Jesus.  She is a woman and a gentile. She has a sick daughter. By the custom and practice of the time, she should not dare to approach Jesus.  Culturally, she has no right to expect to share in the ministry of Jesus.  She should “remain invisible and say nothing.”




On one level, the Canaanite woman is like many people in our world today. She is like all the women who are denied an equal place at the table. She represents those who are struggling to care for others (children, family, parents, etc) and do not have the means to do so as they would like.  She is like all parents who cannot get good health care for their children. She represents those who are left out because of their national or ethnic background.  She reminds us of those of us who are intimidated by religious, political, or economic authority.




On another level, the Canaanite woman reminds us of those who take the courage to speak up despite all the cultural messages to keep quiet and just accept their suffering. She models a woman who is willing to speak up to authority. She represents those who keep on speaking out for justice and basic human rights.  She represents those who do not give up.




Jesus is touched by this amazing encounter.  He praises her faith. Her daughter is cured. The experience of Jesus seems to point to the possibility of conversion and the possibility of help coming to those who are in need.




The Gospel inspires people to have the freedom and courage to speak up and take action for their rights. The Gospel is about liberation and transformation.  The woman speaks up. Her daughter is healed.  Both she and Jesus are changed.  The prophecy of Isaiah comes true. On God’s mountain there is a gathering of folks from all the many nations who enjoy justice and peace.




Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group




Who do you know who is as persistent at the Canaanite woman? 


How does such persistence affect you? Are you in any way changed?


Can you be so persistent in speaking up for your rights or the rights of those in need?








The Canaanite woman is like many people in our world today. She is like all the women who are denied an equal place at the table.  Who comes to mind in our world today who is like the Canaanite woman? Who is also struggling for justice for those she loves?



Actions - Links




Ø  “World leaders will spend $1 trillion on nukes in the next 10 years while cutting essential services that we all need! Will you take1 minute to tell them what matters most to you?”  Add your names to the protest for a better way to use our resources at




Ø  On December 18, 1979, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).   Almost all countries have ratified CEDAW - 186 out of 193 countries. Only seven have not ratified including the United States, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, and three small Pacific Island nations (Nauru, Palau and Tonga). For info and to advocate on this treaty go to




Ø  The Girl Effect is defined as “The unique potential of 600 million adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.” Find out more at






“Crazy Facts”




Ø  186 countries have ratified the Treaty for the Rights of Women.   The United States has still not ratified this treaty.




Ø  Approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school.


(Cynthia B. Lloyd, ed., Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries [Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2005].)




Ø  Out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 percent are girls.


(Human Rights Watch, “Promises Broken: An Assessment of Children’s Rights on the 10th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” [December 1999].)






At this site you will find the stories of five girls and their dealing with poverty and a lack of education and safety.

Prayers of Intercession




Response:  Help us and heal us, O God.


For those who are sick, we pray….


For immigrants to our nation, we pray….


For refugees throughout the world, we pray….


For those who are hungry, especially those suffering from the famine in Somalia, we pray….


For the unemployed, we pray….


For women who are denied equal rights, we pray….


For all children, especially girls, who are denied the opportunity of education, we pray….


For those who are afraid to speak up for what is right, we pray….




Prayer – Meditation




The prayer below is edited from the website of St. Mary’s College Ipswich.




Living God, we pray for all people:


               For those women shut off from a full life by tradition and practice.


               For those people who are oppressed and exploited.


               For those denied their freedom and dignity by systems and authorities.


               For those forced to leave their homelands because of their ideologies.


               For those seeking answers and meaning to their lives within their own cultures and religions.


               For those who labor too long and too hard only to barely feed and clothe themselves and their families.


               For those forced to sell their bodies to survive


               For those women and men who live lives of quiet desperation at the hands of the powerful and prestigious.


               For these and all who suffer




We pray, asking that the Church may once again give joyful expression to your creative love


               Which breaks down barriers and unites person to person, woman to man, and community to community,


               Which gives meaning and hope to empty lives and makes us reach out to each other in generous self-giving,


               Which makes us more complete ourselves.




So God, fulfill your promise in us for the sake of all human beings through Jesus Christ.