My Justice, About to be Revealed…

Reflection for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Director of Advocacy, Sr. Maria Orlandini

This reflection was originally posted in our August 13th newsletter


“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

These verses at the beginning of the First Reading prompt us to ask ourselves: what justice is God talking about? It is easy to notice that all three of this week’s Readings are talking about Foreigners, Gentiles, a Canaanite; in other words, someone outside the Jewish world or religion and, in the case of the Canaanite, a woman! Is this the justice God is talking about, to do justice to the foreigners?

We could not find a more timely message while in prayer we ask God to guide our ministry as followers of Jesus. Today our world and country are engaged in a real confrontation with two issues of primary importance which, in many cases, are created by U.S. policies. They are, how to deal with IMMIGRATION from places of extreme poverty to more affluent parts of the world, and REFUGEES running away from violence and death to a place of safety and protection. In fact, we could easily substitute the word “foreigners” in the first reading with “immigrant, refugees, asylees”, and the message is quite clear for us today. God is not asking foreigners where they come from and why, or how they called their God. Instead, God’s asks are simple and straightforward: …join themselves to the Lord, love the name of the Lord, keep the Sabbath…etc. By doing so “their offerings will be acceptable on my altar for my house shall be called a house of prayer for ALL PEOPLES.” So, who are we to put limits on whom God looks with favor?

The Gospel, I believe, has a similar message but presented in a more dramatic way. I have to confess I never liked this Gospel. I found it quite rude and could not reconcile the Jesus I believe in with the one presented here…until it dawned on me that Jesus is teaching, by using exaggeration to convey a lesson. Jesus uses his behavior towards the Canaanite woman to emphasize a point and get the attention of his disciples. He must have sensed that the woman would not let go! “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” So, being a Canaanite woman does not exclude this mother from being “acceptable” in God’s house, for justice to be revealed to her.

I tried to imagine what the disciples were really saying with “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” Could it happen today? What about: send her/them away, they have come here to take away our jobs; she/they did not follow our policy and kept on coming; she/they are not like us, she/they do not speak our language. Send her/them out because they are here without our permission; she/they keep on coming back and pestering us, using our resources that should go to our children…and so on.

Jesus saw the disciples’ resistance and took the occasion to show them that what really matters is the heart, the motivation, and for the Canaanite mother both were in the right place.

Sr. Maria Orlandini, OSF
FAN Director of Advocacy

Published in: on August 15, 2017 at 9:04 am  Leave a Comment  

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