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Pray With Us (weekly reflection)

Reflection for August 20, 2017
 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Isaiah 56: 1, 6-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 67: 2-3, 5, 6, 8
Second Reading: Romans 11: 13-15, 29-32
Gospel: Matthew 15: 21-28

"Observe what is right, do what is just."  In our world, particularly in our country, there seems to be great desire to determine who belongs and who does not, who shuld be included and who should be excluded.  Jesus shows us today that God's embrace includes all people and is limitless, even those who are deemed unworthy by cultural, societal, and relgious norms.  The woman in the Gospel comes to Jesus with a request to help her daughter.  After ignoring her, Jesus eventually responds by saying he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  However, the woman, a Canaanite, persists in her request and engages Jesus in dialogue.  Because of her persistence, Jesus recognizes her great faith and extends God's inclusive embrace to this woman, who is not of the house of Israel, and her daughter is healed.  Today's readings remind us that we must do what is right and do what is just by reverencing the value, dignity, and worth of every human being even when society and religion seek to exclude because of difference, religion, citizenship, ethnicity, culture or race.  Do I recognize those who are excluded?  Do I have the courage and strength to be the voice of what is just and right for those whose voice has been taken away?

God of love, open my eyes to see your image in the immigrant, the migrant, the poor, and those who are different from me.  Give me the strength and persistence to do what is right and just by standing with those who are excluded and whose rights are taken away.  Help me to reverence all of creation by extending your limitless embrace of love and acceptance.

Br. Joseph Bach, OSF