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20th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 20 August 2023

This week’s Gospel, narrates the encounter between Jesus and a Canaanite woman who approached him seeking help for her demon-possessed daughter. This seemingly simple story carries profound implications, reflecting God’s universal care and concern for people of every nation. It also serves as a reminder that we should not restrict God’s love to ourselves or to the laws of any particular institution.

In the passage, Jesus initially seems to dismiss the Canaanite woman’s plea, stating that he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. At first glance, this response might be perplexing and even disheartening, as it implies a restriction on God’s love and healing power. However, the woman’s unyielding faith and persistence in addressing Jesus as the “Son of David” demonstrate her belief in the divine authority and universal nature of God’s compassion.

Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite woman reveals an important truth: God’s love transcends cultural, ethnic, and societal boundaries. It is not confined to a particular group or institution but extends to all humanity. This story serves as a reminder that God’s grace and care are not limited by human divisions but are available to everyone, regardless of their background or origin.

As believers, we should be cautious not to confine God’s love and grace within the narrow confines of our own understanding or religious institutions. Our faith should not become a barrier but an open gateway for all who seek God’s presence. Instead of imposing limitations on God’s love, we should strive to share it with others, just as the Canaanite woman’s faith and persistence touched the heart of Jesus.

The notion that rules surrounding the reception of the Eucharist are designed to protect the Lord from those He wants to draw close to is a thought-provoking observation. While these rules may serve important theological and sacramental purposes, they should not become exclusive barriers that hinder people from experiencing the transformative power of communion with Christ.

Jesus’ ministry was characterized by openness and inclusivity. He welcomed sinners, outcasts, and those considered unworthy by society, inviting them to partake in the divine fellowship. The Eucharist, as a central aspect of Roman Catholic worship, symbolizes this invitation to be in communion with Christ. Thus, the rules surrounding it should not be exclusionary but rather a means to foster spiritual growth, reverence, and sincere devotion.

Today’s Gospel presents a powerful narrative of God’s universal care and concern for all people. The encounter between Jesus and the Canaanite woman serves as a reminder that God’s love is not confined by human boundaries and should not be restricted by our own biases or institutional rules. Instead, our faith should be a catalyst for openness and inclusivity, allowing God’s love to flow freely and embrace all who seek Him. We must approach our spiritual practices with humility and understanding, ensuring that they do not become stumbling blocks for others but avenues for drawing close to the Lord.

Fr Stephen Berecz

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