Sunday Reflections

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 20, 2023

Reflection by:

Reflection by:

Fr. Jim Donohue, CR

This gospel is one of the most difficult passages to understand! Jesus, who is concerned for the poor, the sick, and the outcast, seems to ignore or reject this woman in her need. But his response to her provides a clue that can help us understand, not only this gospel passage, but the whole mission of Jesus.

Jesus tells the woman that he has been sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Indeed, this is his mission.

Perhaps it is best to go back to Abraham. God’s plan is to save the world. The whole world. Every part of it. But God starts small with one person, in one place, at one time. Abraham—called “the Father of Faith”—has such trust in God that God believes that God can build a people upon the faith of this man. And this people—Israel—has a mandate. They are not chosen because they are better than any other people. Rather, they are chosen to be given a responsibility, to be a sign for the world of what it is to be in relationship with God. Of course, this relationship is a turbulent one, but even through Israel’s infidelities, God remains faithful and shows the world the true face of God: forgiveness and compassion.

Jesus’ mission is to call Israel to repentance at this last hour. In his preaching, John the Baptist used images about this end time: the axe is wielded toward the base of the tree, the winnowing fan is separating the wheat from the chaff, and a fire is about to consume the earth. This is the end of time when God reveals Godself fully in Jesus, the time for Israel to convert and to attract all people to the mountain of the Lord.

So, Matthew is being true to the mission of Jesus: first to Israel SO THAT the whole world can be saved. Jesus final healing gesture, in response to the faith that he is looking for in Israel, is an anticipation of what will happen to those outside of Israel, to the whole world.

Share This Post

More To Explore