As lay associates, sisters and brothers of the Ireland England Province of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary, we are priviliged to be able to offer you some thoughts and reflections on our Sunday readings.  Many of our lay associates, sisters and brothers have contributed to putting together for the first time, homilies which cover every Sunday of the Liturgical year.  We hope that you will find this service to be of assistance to you in your ministry or just as an opportunity for you to reflect and to pray on the various themes that these reading have to offer us.

preach gospel always

 12. Homilies - 20th to 23th Sundays in Ordinary Time 

Each week on a Monday, we will try to post the homily for the following w/e on this Homily Homepage.  (See previous homilies at the bottom of the page)   

20th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - Year A by Sr Claire Bouchard

Each time I read this Gospel, I am surprised by Jesus’ treatment of the Canaanite woman. There is no adequate explanation for it. Some say that these are not Jesus’ words, that Matthew put them on his lips; some say he was referring to a puppy, not a savage dog, some say he did it to test her faith. None of these work for me. Nevertheless, this story can teach valuable lessons. As with all scripture it reveals something about God. God’s love and mercy have no boundaries. We, as Jesus, come to know this gradually through our encounters with others.
This story can be compared with and earlier one where Jesus heals the servant boy of the centurion.  Though he was a gentile, he was a man, from Rome and had a servant boy who was dying. Jesus’ offer to go to the man’s house, led to his response: “I am not worthy to have you under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will get better.” Jesus’ remarked: “I assure you, I have never found this much faith in Israel”. No harsh words from Jesus in that story.
In the present story the difference is that Canaanites were the mortal enemies of Israel, commonly referred to as “dogs”. The unidentified woman had a daughter who was “tormented by demons”. Somehow she had heard of this preacher with gifts of healing. She would seek him, even if he were a Jew, because she believed he could heal her daughter. She came to Jesus, pleading “Lord, Son of David, have pity on me!” He ignored her. She persisted. The disciples got annoyed and asked him to send her away. Jesus makes a declaration of his mission: “My mission is only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” She comes forward and pays him homage. She will not be deterred. “Help, me Lord!” Does her desperation stir something in Jesus’ heart? He engages her in conversation. “It is not right to take the food of sons and daughters” he tells her, “and throw it to the dogs”. She insists, “…even the dogs eat the leavings that fall from their masters’ tables.” Jesus sees the light. He recognizes her great faith. Her daughter is healed.
Through the encounter with the woman, God continues to expand His Son’s understanding of his mission. Jesus mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God must reach to the ends of the earth. He could not have passed this ideal on to his disciples, to his followers, and to the church if the seed had not been planted in his own ministry.
God gives his gifts freely- not taking into consideration our social norms or status. We need to be open to receive them. The gifts are not only for those who belong to our group- but also to people who may be considered “outsiders,” “enemies,” people with different gender, skin color, nationality, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, etc. from our own. We are invited, like Jesus, to move beyond silent ignoring, annoyance and to enter into conversation with those different from ourselves. This gospel invites us to recognize the faith and goodness in others. How do we nurture our own faith? Are we, like this Canaanite woman, willing to face fears of rejection, to be persistent and to do whatever it takes to get the healing we desperately need? Are we willing to walk barefoot with her and crawl under the table to experience what it is like to have to wait for scraps?

It is not an accident that Matthew situates this story between the two events where Jesus feeds 5,000 and 4,000 and where 12 baskets of scraps were left over. May we who pray to our Father to give us our daily bread, receive the Bread of Life and learn from him how to share more than just scraps with everyone we meet so they, too, can share in the heavenly banquet.  


1. All homilies for Advent can be accessed by clicking here.

2. Feasts of the Holy Family to the Baptism of Jesus - Year A.

3. Homilies - 2nd Sunday in Ordinary time to 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

4. Homilies - 6th Sunday in Ordinary time to 2nd Sunday of Lent  

5. Homilies - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary time to 4th Sunday of Lent.

6. Homilies - 5th Sunday of Lent to Easter Sunday

7. Homilies - 2nd to 4th Sundays of Easter

8. Homilies - 5th & 6th Sundays of Easte

9. Homilies - Feast of Ascension to Feast of Corpus Christi (May/Jun)

10. Homilies - 12th to 15th Sundays in Ordinary Time

11. Homilies - 16th to 19th Sundays in Ordinary Time

12. Homilies - 20th to 23th Sundays in Ordinary Time 

Click here for HOMILIES - YEAR C