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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Looby

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2023

**Homily for Matthew 15:21-28**

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today's Gospel from Matthew presents us with a deeply moving and, at first glance, perplexing encounter between Jesus and a Canaanite woman. This passage is rich with lessons about faith, humility, and the universality of God’s mercy.

Let's dive deeper into this narrative.

Firstly, the woman is identified as a “Canaanite” – an outsider. Not a Jew, she comes from a different culture and religious background. Yet, her plea is desperate and sincere: “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Her faith in Jesus is evident. She acknowledges Him not only as Lord but as the "Son of David" - a clear recognition of His messianic identity.

What's puzzling for many is Jesus' initial silence and subsequent seemingly dismissive response. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” He says. But the woman does not relent. With great humility and persistence, she pleads again, “Lord, help me!”

Jesus' reply could be taken as even more baffling: “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” Yet, this woman, in her great humility, responds, “Yes it is, Lord. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

With this, Jesus openly praises her faith: “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that very moment.

So, what can we draw from this encounter?

1. **Persistent Faith**: The Canaanite woman’s persistence in her request reveals the depth of her faith. Often in our own lives, when faced with silence or what seems like God's indifference, we may be tempted to give up on our prayers. But this woman challenges us to persevere, trusting in the Lord’s goodness.

2. **Humility**: The woman's response isn't a protest but an expression of profound humility. She does not demand or claim entitlement but humbly acknowledges that even a crumb of God’s mercy is sufficient. This humility transforms her plea from mere petition to an act of worship.

3. **Universality of God's Love**: Jesus, through this episode, illustrates that God's mercy knows no bounds. While His mission started with the Jews, His salvation is for all. Every person, regardless of their background, is welcome at the table of the Lord.

In our world today, many feel like outsiders—distanced from God because of their past, their decisions, their identities, or even their doubts. This Gospel passage reminds us that no one is beyond the reach of Christ's saving embrace.

As we continue our journey of faith, let us take inspiration from the Canaanite woman. May we approach God with persistent faith, profound humility, and the certitude that His love and mercy are boundless, always welcoming us, always ready to heal and restore.

In Christ’s love and mercy, let us move forward, sharing His inclusive love with everyone we encounter.


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