Homily for the twentieth Sunday of the year - Year A - Mt. 15:21-28
 
 
by
 
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 
 
" Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, «Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.» But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, «Send her away, for she is crying after us.» He answered, «I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.» But she came and knelt before him, saying, «Lord, help me.» And he answered, «It is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.» She said, «Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.» Then Jesus answered her, «O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.» And her daughter was healed instantly. "
 
 
 
Homily:
 
 
" Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, «Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.» But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, «Send her away, for she is crying after us.» He answered, «I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.» "
 
Jesus leaves Galilee for a while to go further north, to the coast, near the towns of Tyre and Sidon. And a woman from that area leaves her home and goes to meet the Master, about whom she had heard, and she cries out to him: "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon."
 
Jesus at first refuses to listen to this woman and to grant her what she asks. His disciples insist, and seem to ask their Master to answer the woman in order that she might stop following them with her cries! His reply to all of them: "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
 
It is clear that Jesus is right: he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Why? Quite simply because there has always been but one Israel, that of Jesus himself, just as Saint Paul would say that there is but one Body of Christ (cf. Eph. 4:4). This Israel is made up of the Jews who awaited him in the person of the Messiah. Some of them recognized him and welcomed him: these were the Apostles, the disciples, the first Christians of Jewish origin...
 
Today's Jews no longer constitute Israel, that is to say the chosen People of God. For they lack the principal element: Christ, who, alone, in his whole person, gathers together all the elect of God into a single Body, which is the Church, the one true People of God. Without Christ, nothing can truly be called Israel...
 
" But she came and knelt before him, saying, «Lord, help me.» And he answered, «It is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.» She said, «Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.» "
 
We have just spoken of the Body of Christ. And Jesus speaks of the children's bread, which should not be thrown to the dogs. Body and bread: we can easily see a connection with the Eucharist, the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ with which the Church is fed! And it is indeed the Eucharist that allows us to understand this story a little better!
 
The Church was at first made up of Jews, and then of both Jews and non-Jews. This is what the woman means when she says: "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." First the masters, which is to say, the first ones, the Jews; and then the dogs, which is to say, the Gentiles, or the non-Jews.
 
In the Church, between Jews and non-Jews, there has never been a rupture in time, but rather an absolute continuity: there was not at first the time of the Jews, and then the time of the non-Jews. Now, with respect to the Eucharist, this continuity in time is concretized and realized through a single action: that of the breaking of the bread!
 
In fact, the liturgical rite of the breaking of the bread is a custom that had already been practised by the Jews and that was performed by Jesus himself when he instituted the sacrament of his Body and Blood. The breaking of the bread subsequently became the principal name of the Eucharistic celebration (cf. Acts 2:42).
 
Now, it is indeed the breaking of the bread that allows us to eat of the bread in question, while allowing to drop - not on the ground, but rather in the cup, and notably in the cup containing the Blood of Christ - a few crumbs, for the "dogs", that is to say for those who are called to become new members of the Body of Christ, the Israel of God for the times to come!
 
" Then Jesus answered her, «O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.» And her daughter was healed instantly. "
 
Truly, this woman's faith is great! Let us ask Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the Mother of the Eucharist, to grant us such a faith in her Son Jesus, for the Glory of the Father, in the Holy Spirit!
 

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