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Gospel Reflection – Aug 18, 2023

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr Gerard Lai
Fr Gerard Lai

Crossing Boundaries

Today’s Gospel (Matthew 15:21-28) is an interesting one. At first glance, it appears to be an argumentative person vying for Jesus’ attention, which she eventually gets. However, as with all Scripture, the story has a deeper meaning.


Firstly, Jesus and his disciples have travelled into the region of Tyre and Sidon, a place predominantly inhabited by gentiles (non-Jews). In the preceding bible passages, Jesus had just finished challenging the Pharisees on what was clean and unclean and so, by travelling to Tyre and Sidon, further challenges traditional Jewish social norms.


The Canaanite Woman pleaded with Jesus, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Uncharacteristically, Jesus ignores her. The woman cries after Jesus repeatedly, to which he replies, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel…It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” Meaning, “I came to save the Jewish people and so because you are not Jewish, it is not right to take what is for the Jews and give it to others.”


The woman gives a witty reply, “Ah yes, sir; but even house-dogs can eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table.” Food prepared for children is indeed not intended for pets, however children can be messy eaters and the dogs are still able to gain access to the scraps. Outsmarted, Jesus agrees to the woman’s persistent request, even praising her faith.


Now this woman is a gentile and yet she had faith, faith in Jesus, from whom comes the healing power of God. The woman stands for all of us as gentiles, who can learn from her faithful persistence. From this story we see that Jesus’ vision of salvation for ‘Israel’ means redemption by a saving power which crosses our human boundaries and perceptions and is available for all people and for all outsiders, not just ‘the Jews’.


This year’s annual Catholic Campaign offers us an opportunity to cross boundaries by assisting those who may not be familiar to us. The campaign assists 5 main areas, which enable Catholic organisations to reach out to those in our community. Your donation will allow God to work through you, enabling the needy to gain opportunities which may be unavailable to them otherwise.


  • Holy Spirit Seminary – supporting the formation of future priests.

  • The Priest’s Foundation – assisting the necessities of retired priests.
  • The Mary MacKillop Catholic School Access Fund – providing bursaries for students experiencing


  • Centacare – Pastoral care for victims of domestic violence, families in distress, support for those with mental

    illness, those imprisoned, the disabled and for those conducting various chaplaincy roles.

  • Annual Grants Program – Supporting grassroots initiatives in the wider Catholic community.



Please prayerfully consider giving an amount which means something to you.



Fr Gerard






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