20th Sunday of Ordinary Time 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.
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 Cycle Cycle A
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.
My house shall be called a house of prayer! Today we can reflect in our own lives about our personal life of prayer and about the life of prayer in our community. If there is anything that marks the life of Jesus Christ, it is that He prays and He invites us to pray to our Father in heaven. Over and over Jesus leads us to God and finally we realize that Jesus is God and our Lord.
The first reading today, from the Prophet Isaiah, is clear that all peoples are called to pray and to trust in the Lord. Salvation is meant for all. When we hear this reading, we must allow ourselves to be formed by it and live in our own personal lives and in our communities this reality of prayer and this reality that all peoples are called to be saved by our Lord Jesus.
At a practical level, this means that we must take time every day, as Jesus seems to have done, and go apart to pray to the Father. We must arrange our lives in such a way that we have time to pray—and then we must take that time and actually pray.
Today’s Gospel from Saint Matthew reminds us that we come as beggars into the presence of the Lord. We must have the courage of beggars and insist with the Lord that He hear us and answer all our needs. It is so easy to rely on our own gifts and on what the Lord has given us already and be content. Instead, we must be like this Canaanite women who insists that the Lord help her.
What do we pray for? Do we feel strongly enough about our lives and the lives of others that we can insist with our Lord that He do something? So often prayer is really about where our heart is, what we think and feel most strongly. Are we passionate about anything? Do we care about anything or anyone?
Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans talks about disobedience bringing God’s mercy. Today hardly anyone thinks about disobedience at all. We have become obedient to our own desires and often seem to have abandoned even thinking about what God asks of us in His revealed word.
As we hear the readings today, we are invited once again to allow God to form us. We want to be His followers in the very best way by living as He invites us to live. Let us pray for a deep understanding of God and the courage to live as God invites us to live: with mercy and with humble hearts.