20 August 2017
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Isaiah 56: 1, 6-7
Second Reading: Romans 11: 13-15, 29-32
Gospel: Matthew 15: 21-28
CALLED TO ACT IN GOD’S NAME
“Let all the nations praise you!” (Psalm 67:4) today’s psalm response exclaims. In the psalms and other Hebrew scriptures, this kind of invocation is actually an invitation to God to act, to intervene in human lives in a manner that will cause everyone—not just the Chosen People—to give praise. Stated a bit more strongly, it is something of a “put up or shut up” challenge to God, the sort of strong statement the psalmists of Israel, trusting in their intimate and loving relationship with God, were not afraid to make.
The Gospel has its own exclamation, announcing the appearance of the Canaanite woman with “Behold!” (Matthew 15:22) “Behold!” is a scriptural flag that tells us that God is about to act or announce something through an individual or a situation. In the case of Jesus, God was going to act through this woman, whom nobody among Jesus’ followers would have believed to be an agent of the divine will. Like the psalmists, we might passively inform or perhaps even actively challenge God to do something so that everyone will come to belief, but God will always turn the tables on us. It becomes our calling, our duty (as it was for Jesus) to behold the situations and persons of our daily lives so that God can act through us, so the Kingdom can be announced through our living.
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