Theme: JESUS CHRIST CAME TO SAVE NOT ONLY THE JEWS BUT ALSO THE NON-JEWS
- Isaiah 56:1. 6-7;
- Psalm 66 (67):2-3. 5-6. 8. R/ v. 4;
- Romans 11:13-15. 29-32
- Matthew 15:21-28
Today is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that Jesus Christ came not only to save the Jews, but also to save the non-Jews! The gospel today tells us that a Canaanite woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter who was tormented by a devil, but Jesus ignored her. And when the disciples pleaded on her behalf, Jesus answered them that he was sent only for the lost sheep of the House of Israel, that is, he was sent only for the Jews and not for the non-Jews.
And when the woman herself came up and pleaded at his feet, Jesus answered her that it was not fair to take the food of the children and throw it to the house-dogs, but the woman retorted that even the house-dogs eat the scraps that fall from the master’s table! At this, Jesus praised her for her “great faith” and healed her daughter! This is the only time in the gospel of Matthew that Jesus praised anyone for “great faith”! (NJBC)
Indeed, Jesus Christ came to save all peoples, but we must have “great faith” in him. It is not enough to have faith in Jesus Christ; we must have “great faith” in Jesus Christ. The woman had “great faith”. She pleaded with Jesus three times before Jesus granted her request and healed her daughter. (John Chrysostom, c. 347-407; Herald, The Catholic Weekly) The irony is that the Jews, those whom Jesus came to save, did not have faith in Jesus Christ and they were not saved! The question of salvation is not whether we are Jews or non-Jews, but whether we have “great faith” in Jesus Christ!
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that even foreign peoples who are non-Jews will also be saved!
The first reading tells us that foreigners who are non-Jews, but who love and serve God, and who keep the Sabbath and the covenant, will also worship in the Temple of God. (GNB; Craghan) Thus we read in the first reading:
“Foreigners who have attached themselves to the Lord to serve him and to love his name and be his servants – all who observe the Sabbath, not profaning it, and cling to my covenant – these I will bring to my holy mountain.” (Is 56:6-7; SM)
Again, the question of salvation is not whether we are Jews or non-Jews, but whether we love and serve God, and keep the Sabbath and keep his covenant!
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm asks God to bless Israel so that the nations seeing the blessings of God on Israel will also worship the God of Israel. (HCSB) Thus we read in the first and third stanzas of the responsorial psalm:
“O God, be gracious and bless us and let your face shed its light upon us. So will your ways be known upon earth and all nations learn your saving help.” (vv. 2 & 3; SM)
“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. May God still give us his blessing till the ends of the earth revere him.” (vv. 6 & 8; SM)
And thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the refrain of the psalm:
“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (vv. 4 & 6; SM)
The gospel today tells us about the salvation of the gentiles, the pagans, that is, the non-Jews, but the second reading today tells us about the salvation of the Jews! How can the Jews who rejected Jesus be saved? St. Paul answers this question by telling us about the merciful plan of God.
St. Paul tells us that the rejection of Jesus by the Jews means that the gospel will be preached to the Gentiles, the non-Jews. And when the gentiles accept the gospel, the Jews will be jealous and will accept the gospel and will be saved! It is all in the merciful plan of God! Thus we read in the concluding verse of the second reading:
“God has imprisoned all men in their own disobedience only to show mercy to all mankind.” (Rm 11:32; SM)
This verse echoes Rm 5:20: “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.”! (CSB)
Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to the whole world so that all may believe and be saved, including the Jews! Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!