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20th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Year A
August 16, 2020
Anne Osdieck

First Reading
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

1. “Observe what is right, do what is just.” Is Isaiah telling us to look at situations in our lives, discern what is right, and do a just action to change it? Are today’s crises—racial, economic and environmental—offering us opportunities to discern and become prophets of change?

2. “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Is God’s house open to just a few people or all people? Did the chosen folks have to wrestle with that idea? Today, does racial bias relate to this problem? What is the message in this reading—to go find the excluded and bring them in?

Second Reading

Romans 11:13-15, 29-32

1. “The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” According to this statement of St. Paul, will there ever be a change in God’s mind, to stop loving us? “Even if we are faithless he is faithful, because he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). Explain.
2. St. Paul says that the Israelites disobeyed yet received mercy; the Gentiles disobeyed and received it too. Mercy is a profound characteristic of God. Trace Jesus’ mercy in today’s Gospel to the Canaanite woman.

Matthew 15:21-28

1. What is it about her statement, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters” that prompts Jesus to grant her request? Do you think he might have understood his mission from the Father better, during this conversation?

2. What risk did the Canaanite woman take when she cried, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!” Who are the risk takers today? For the environment? For racial justice? For caring for people with the virus? Is anything great gained without risk?

The woman who was sick took a risk when she furtively touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak: she risked being ridiculed. But she risked because she wanted to be cured, she wanted to reach Jesus. Remember the Canaanite woman. Women risk more than men do! That’s true: they are better at it! We have to admit that.

Do I take risks, or do I follow Jesus according to the rules of my insurance company? … Do I put my faith in Jesus? Do I entrust my life to Jesus? Am I walking behind Jesus even if sometimes I seem ridiculous? Or am I sitting still, watching what others are doing?

Pope Francis, Homily, Mass in Chapel of Santa Marta
paragraph 5
January 13, 2017

Anne Osdieck

Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go