Lectionary Reflections: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a] August 17, 2014

Engaging Faith | Fri, Aug 8, 2014

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

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

August 17, 2014

Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern


Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

Romans 11:13-15, 29-32

Matthew 15:21-28



August 15: Feast of the Assumption of Mary

August 17: Krishna Janmashtami (Hindu celebration of the birth of Krishna)

August 19: World Humanitarian Day (to honor aid workers who have lost their lives)

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. 

- U.S. Catholic Bishops, Brother and Sisters to Us, 1979

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.

- Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Instruction on Certain Aspects of the "Theology of Liberation"

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 C.S.J., She Who Is, 82

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 C.S.J., She Who Is, 8

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. 

- U.S. Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, 1

To live as true children of God means to love our neighbor and to be close to those who are lonely and in difficulty.

- Pope Francis @Pontifex, July 1, 2014

We cannot be tepid disciples. The Church needs our courage in order to give witness to truth.

- Pope Francis @Pontifex, March 25, 2014


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?



It was his very first class on a Monday morning. The wise teacher, a couple of years shy of retirement, started the day by asking her class of high school students: “Here is a quiz for you. You are sleeping. You are dreaming. A big tiger is chasing you. You try to run away and you see a tiger coming in front of you. You turn sideways, but every side you turn to, you find a ferocious animal coming after you. How can you escape?”

There was silence in the classroom. No one dared a response.

So finally the teacher said, “There’s only one answer: Wake up!”


Actions - Links

  • 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.   To date, 187 countries have ratified CEDAW. The United States is one of only seven countries -- including Iran,Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia,Palau and Tonga – that have not ratified CEDAW. For info and to advocate on this treaty go to  
  • “The girl effect is a movement. It's about leveraging the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves, their families, their communities, their countries and the world. It's about making girls visible and changing their social and economic dynamics by providing them with specific, powerful and relevant resources.” Find out more at 


“Crazy Facts”

  • 187 countries have ratified the Treaty for the Rights of Women. The United States has still not ratified this treaty.
  • Nearly six in ten poor adults are women, and more than half of all poor children live in families headed by women.
  • 1 in 3 American women, 42 million women, plus 28 million children, either live in poverty or are right on the brink of it. (The report defines the “brink of poverty” as making $47,000 a year for a family of four.)  Nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, and these workers often get zero paid sick days.


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, 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 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.