Gospel Reflections

20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 15:21-28

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Bernadette Janssens

Published: August 17, 2014

To understand the life of Jesus, his gestures and his teaching, we should always reconstitute a fresh look the historic context. Jesus lived in a time of great political agitation under the insupportable presence of the Roman occupation. He lived in a world torn by violence and injustice, a world which was not very different from our own.

In today’s Gospel, in order to escape his adversaries who are reproaching Jesus for transgressing Jewish practices of purification, he is going to find their questions related to the limits of pure and impure. This happens through the supplication of the Canaanite woman. What an admirable exchange! The little dogs eat the crumbs falling from the master’s table: What faith!

Strangely enough, Jesus becomes silent first as he is among these particularly arrogant Jews. He hesitates but at the request of his nervous apostles, he decides to respond.

With such faith and humility, this woman asks for the crumbs. Jesus welcomes even the unbelieving according to their faith, raises up those cast down and protects the stranger. He is only able to rejoice at seeing and understanding this woman because she offers him a sign of faith. The request of the woman shows us the strong force of a cry of pity. And Jesus' words transform radically her life. Her response indicates a relationship of closeness and confidence.

This encounter shows the slow work of growth among two individuals who dare to share honestly their limitations: the limitation for Jesus here is being a Jew, and for the woman, it is her hopeless situation. Both of them receive from each other a certain fullness of life!

For all of us, are we capable of living the Gospel in leaving behind, without borders, the territories of our habits and our prejudices?

Come, Holy Spirit…and fill the hearts of all of us with the fire of your love!


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