20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – Homily

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8 (4)
Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
Matthew 15:21-28
August 16, 2020

A Canaanite woman came to Jesus seeking help for her daughter who was “tormented by a demon.”

Many people came to Jesus for healing and exorcising demons.  What’s one more? 

What was Jesus’ response?  “Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.”  Why?  Because she was a Canaanite.  That would mean she was not a Jew.  Jews didn’t associate with the Canaanites.  So, to Jesus’ disciples, it would only seem natural that He would ignore her.

She was persistent in her request.  His disciples asked him to “send her away.”  He responded, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

She could have +given up here.  She did not.  She “did Jesus homage” and continued, “Lord, help me.”  Jesus responded, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”  These words would have been insulting to the woman but she still continued to plea for her daughter.

She persisted because she had faith that Jesus could help her daughter.  She was not interceding for her daughter to just anyone.  She was interceding to Jesus, whom she calls “Lord, Son of David.”

Jesus answered her prayer and her “daughter was healed from that hour.

Jesus hears our prayers.  Jesus hears the prayers of all.  Jesus knew what He would do for the woman.  The Lord tells in Isaiah that even foreigners will “join themselves to the Lord.”  Before healing the Canaanite’s woman daughter, He used it as an opportunity for her to give witness to her faith. 

We can pray in different styles.  There is an acronym, ACTS, representing four types of prayer; Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

The last, supplication, is probably the most common form of prayer.  It is intercessory prayer where we pray for the needs of others and our own needs.  This is the form of prayer offered by the Canaanite woman for her daughter. 

It may be the most common form of prayer but in the acronym ACTS, note that it is the last one of the four.

What is first?  Adoration.  Adoration here means to praise God.  The Canaanite woman addressed Jesus as “Lord, Son of David,” recognizing him as the Messiah, and did him homage.

We give God praise as we celebrate Mass.  We may come to Mass looking for something for ourselves but Mass centers on praising God.

The second form in the acronym is “confession.”  This is not a reference to only the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we confess our sins.  “Confession” in this sense is recognize that we are nothing without God, that we need God. 

The Canaanite woman began her prayer for her daughter with, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David.”  She knew she needed help. 

We need help.  We come to Mass seeking help.  We come knowing we sin at times.  We acknowledge this in the Penitential Rite at the beginning of Mass with our responses to the invocations of the priest (or deacon), “Lord have mercy….Christ have mercy….Lord have mercy.”

The third form of prayer in the acronym is “thanksgiving.”  What do you have to be thankful for?  Sometimes it might seem hard to find something to be thankful for.  Several years ago, a woman told me she kept a spiritual journal.  At the end of every day she would write down five things she was thankful for.  I was very surprised she said she found five things everyday.  Sometimes it can be hard to find one thing.  I think part of the problem is we look for the big and impressive things and fail to see the little things God does for us. 

We need to be aware of the little things.  When we can see them, it can change our whole attitude from one of negativity to gratitude.  It makes life joyful.

ACTS – adoration, confession, and thanksgiving, lead us to our prayers of supplication (intercession) with a trust in God that gives us a sense of peace even in the midst of great need. 

It is this through the attitude we cultivate the proper attitude within us to do what the Lord says through Isaiah, to make joyful in his house of prayer.

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