Doing What’s Good

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

August 20, 2023 – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 15:21-28

Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.


Cheer, cheer, cheer for the home team – a line common to most of us. Around the world stadiums, sports arenas and fields fill with local fans urging their local teams to victory. In similar fashion, various regions, even whole countries stand in support of local citizens in pursuit of victory over “outsiders.” And unfortunately, this favoritism of locals can create battles and even wars over foreign enemies. And lastly, this “tribal” hostility and aggression can infect religions. We are all familiar with the concept of “religious warfare.”

I grew up in a city that was filled with churches. While our family belonged to one Catholic parish, we frequented others. I recall my dad preferring to take us to a different parish in the summer where there was no sermon. However, we were also prohibited from attending services that were not Catholic. If we found ourselves invited to a non-Catholic church for a wedding or funeral, we were to remain passive. The same directive was given to non-Catholics attending our religious events. Except bingo.

Jesus was also affected by similar restrictions as is described in today’s gospel. A Canaanite woman (non-Jewish) approached him who had likely heard that he had special religious powers over the presence of evil. We are told that her daughter was “tormented by a demon.” Such beliefs were common in his time.

Jesus might simply ignore her request. After all, he told her that his work was to be limited to his own people, the Jews. Yet she persisted with her plea for his help. He was impressed with her faith in him and he eventually responded in a positive way to her request. Is there a message here for us? I think so.

We live in a very divided country, while all kinds of divisions seem common throughout the world. These divisions are sometimes based on religion, but can also involve race, politics, geography and any number of differences that cause people to divide our world into an “us” and a “them.”

And while Jesus in today’s gospel does not say that such differences are evil in themselves, he seems to act as if we should not prevent them from our doing what’s good and helpful. We might be reminded that all people are beloved creations of the one God and that there will be times when it’s better to help each other than not.  

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