The Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time - 20th August, 2017

Lectionary readings:  Is 56:1.6-7;  Ps 67;   Rom 11:13-15.29-32 ;Mt 15:21-28

"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.”  (Is 56, 1)

 

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When we enter the world of the Scripture we enter into the world of the Promise. As in this Sunday’s readings Isaiah wants us to observe what is right expecting imminent salvation, we are brought into the realm of hope. In biblical terms hope is not merely the ability to contemplate the future or feeling that something desirable is likely to happen but it is real transformative strength.

 

Anne Applebaum in her book Gulags describes the people’s every day unthinkable life in former Soviet camps. On the very first day prisoners were stripped of everything which could have had any personal meaning like family photo, Bible, rosary. Prison guards checked everybody thoroughly in order that no such thing stayed with a prisoner. Why were such innocuous artefacts of such importance for them? Anne gives a very telling answer: any token of life outside the prison improved the chances for survival. Remembering their former life and keeping the faith of returning to normal life was sufficient to keep them in higher spirits.  People who ceased to expect anything lost any reason for living. It is a proof that hope is a real strength.

 

The Hebrew language uses the word ‘tikvah’ to express the meaning of hope. While the English definition may sound abstract, Hebrew gives almost a tangible meaning. Strong's defines it as a cord, expectation. The root of the word comes from the word ‘Kavah’ and means bind together, collect, to expect. So hope, in biblical terms, is something we can cling to in a divided world to bind the loose parts. Surely, it is the cornerstone of today's reading: faith in a divided world,  in the hope that all nation will praise God. Isaiah was aware that many people were attracted to the monotheism of the Judeans and hoped that people would be bound together through one faith. And the hope was the proper and sufficient reason to act in a righteous way.

 

In the Gospel both Jesus and the Woman took a risk but both were driven by the Promise. In order to receive the Promise and bring it to life, the woman must get over hearing the word "kynarion": little dog. Though she was from a pagan territory she acted as if she could have some foreknowledge of the promise received by Abraham and was aware that " the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable" and that God works through concrete people. She expected from Jesus the healing of her son and through faith she became one of the people of the Promise.

     

For Reflection and Discussion: There is a danger that what we hope for will remain in the realm of expectation. It always takes a concrete people, read "me", to act in that way where God's message will be part of our everyday life.   Do I act in such a way that I am a part of God's work, or do I conserve my faith in the secure realm of abstract expectations neither to be tasted nor brought into life?

 

This week’s teaching commentary was prepared by

Fr Mariusz Dabrowski, M.Th., Poland,   

Bat Kol alum 2011, 2012

xmarius0@gmail.com  

 [Copyright © 2017]

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PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Gospel commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Sunday Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol.  Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

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Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

“Christians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.”

Website: www.batkol.info;   gill@batkol.info

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