Readings

Responsorial psalm

Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8 (4)

R. (4) O God, let all the nations praise you!
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!

Reading I

Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Observe what is right, do what is just;
for my salvation is about to come,
my justice, about to be revealed.

The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
ministering to him,
loving the name of the LORD,
and becoming his servants—
all who keep the sabbath free from profanation
and hold to my covenant,
them I will bring to my holy mountain
and make joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be acceptable on my altar,
for my house shall be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.

 

Reading II

Romans 11:13-15, 29-32

Brothers and sisters: I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you,
they too may now receive mercy.  For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.

 

Gospel

Matthew 15:21-28

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, "Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon." But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. Jesus' disciples came and asked him, "Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us." He said in reply, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, "Lord, help me."  He said in reply, "It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs."  She said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters."  Then Jesus said to her in reply, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish."  And the woman's daughter was healed from that hour.

 

Reflections

Practice of hope

God calls the whole world to himself; longs to bring all to his “holy mountain and make [them] joyful in [his] house of prayer.” In this week’s readings, Jesus offers healing and praise to a Canaanite woman amidst his mission to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” and St. Paul cautions us against pride of belief. The Church hopes for and works toward the unity of all Christians through its ecumenical efforts. “Ecumenism, from the Greek word ‘oikoumene,’ meaning ‘the whole inhabited world,’ is the promotion of cooperation and unity among Christians,” explains the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Catholic Church engages in works of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue at all levels. To understand the importance of ecumenism, read sections 816-822 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. To learn more about the Church’s ecumenical work and dialogue, visit http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical/index.cfm and explore the video library. How is your parish or (arch) diocese participating in ecumenical activities and projects? How might you become involved?

Scripture insights

Humans have often violently excluded those whom they consider different from themselves. Today’s Scripture readings call our attention to the inclusiveness of God’s covenant community.

Today’s First Reading speaks of a long-awaited time of salvation when God’s people can return from exile and establish themselves again in Judah and Jerusalem. This is God’s desire, the prophet says, that all the nations will join Judah in keeping God’s Commandments and in worshipping together, loving God, and doing what is just.

In the Second Reading, we hear part of St. Paul’s concluding argument about the Jews’ place in God’s universal plan of salvation. We heard the introduction to this argument last week. Paul’s hope and firm conviction is that God will make his ministry to the Gentiles so successful that it will provoke his fellow Jews to jealousy (Greek, parazeloo, also meaning “to excite to emulation”) so that someday all will be joined in one community of divine mercy.

Likewise, the Gospel reading is a story of inclusion, albeit a somewhat painful one. The Canaanite woman is a pagan and not a Jesus follower, and yet she expresses some level of faith in him. When the disciples ask Jesus to “dismiss” her, he seems to agree, saying that he was sent only to minister to his fellow Jews, and then he calls her a dog—referring to the scavenger dogs that roamed the villages and ate garbage to survive. The scene reflects the culture’s respect for witty argument, but in the woman’s snappy response Jesus recognizes her faith; he grants her the healing of her daughter and inclusion in the community of faith.

  • If possible, use your Bible to compare Mark 7:24-30 with today’s Gospel. Assuming Mark’s version of the story was written first, how did Matthew make changes to give it new meaning? Or what words in these readings suggest inclusivity?
  • What does “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” mean for you today?
  • Who are the foreigners in our midst and what small step can you take this week to make them feel welcome?