Today’s message isn’t a new one, but it’s one we need to hear often; God wants everybody. In Jesus’ time, the Jewish people thought God only loved them. Jesus showed them that it wasn’t true. Do we ever forget what Jesus said?
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
O God, let all the nations praise you!
Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
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.
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.
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
God has always told his Chosen People that to keep that title, they had to live like chosen people. God also told them that they were supposed to be a light that brought the rest of the world to God. They kept forgetting that part. In today’s first reading, God reminds the Jewish people that the Gentiles (people who aren’t Jewish) would be as welcome as they were, and that anyone who chooses to have a relationship with God makes themselves chosen. God’s justice is for everyone, as is God’s salvation; and God wants his house filled with all the people.
Paul continues to talk about how he wishes the Jewish people who have rejected Jesus (as he once did) would see the example of the gentiles who have become Christians and join up, too. It’s really the same message as the first reading from Isaiah–that even if the people that God originally chose don’t want to continue to be chosen, God continues to choose others.
The Gospel starts off sounding really mean–does Jesus actually call that poor woman a dog? Right before this story, Jesus was telling the Pharisees that it’s what’s in your heart that matters, and that they were blind for not realizing this. When the woman comes, she shows that she has faith in God in her heart, and that she shouldn’t be sent away just because she’s not Jewish. Jesus uses the language that the people who were following him would use to make a point. What they saw was an unworthy person who was pestering God. What Jesus saw was a “woman” in need and he used her faith as an example to the guys who thought they were better than her and really weren’t. Remember, “woman” is what Jesus called his Mom–it’s a term of reverence and respect. Jesus wanted to show those men that God loves and respects everyone.
Are there any kids in your school or your neighborhood that are excluded by the other kids? Why do they get left out? Is that would God would want for them? How can you be like Jesus and show the others that they should be welcome, too?
Who are the people in our culture that society treats like the followers of Jesus treated Canaanite woman? Are you surprised that even those who were following Jesus needed to be reminded how to treat people? Based on Jesus’ actions, how should we treat the marginalized people in our society?
Do you ever need to be reminded that the people we call “them” are loved by God? Do you have an experience of being “them“? Strategize with your family some ways that you can help welcome those who are unwelcome. Maybe riff off of the “food of the children”, taking into consideration that the story that follows today’s Gospel in Matthew is the feeding of the 4,000.
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”