Sermon for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
by Fr. John Robert Skeldon. Diocese of Fort Worth

The gospel this Sunday is a provocative one.  When I was in seminary, I took a course on Difficult Passages in the New Testament, and the story of the Canaanite woman was one of those passages.  One could rightly ask: Why all the obstacles for this poor woman who just wants her daughter healed?  Jesus seems to be an obstacle at first; the disciples are definitely an obstacle; racial and ethnic prejudice and bigotry are obstacles.  The passage, though, is primarily about the tenacity of faith.  A faith which never lets go…is dogged, persistent and persevering.

Perhaps, the little epithet about “dogs” might be instructive.  Jesus, who in this scene is actually the foreigner (because he is outside of traditional Judea), uses the typical language with which Jews saw non-Jews, and in particular, Canaanites: “it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”  But, this non-Jew acts very Jewish in her belief and practice.  She addresses Jesus as Lord and Son of David, and in spite of all the obstacles thrown up in her way (Jesus first ignores her; the disciples tell Jesus to get rid of her; she is referred to by the epithet with which Jews view Canaanites), she never gives up in her dogged and persistent tenacity to seek what she believes Jesus can give her: healing—salvation—for her daughter.  Instead of retreating in shame and emotional pain, like a dog cowering in a corner, tail between its legs, licking its wounds, our tenacious, persistent and persevering Canaanite woman embraces the other thing for which man’s best friend is known: a dogged determination to never give up.  She turns Jesus’ seeming rejection into an opportunity for closer relationship: “Yes Lord, but even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the master’s table.”  This is something that Jesus has not seen even the disciples portray: the tenacity of faith.  And it comes from an outsider, a foreigner, one who is different, strange…at first glance, one whom the world would ignore.  May we never take anyone for granted or be obstacles (scandles—skandala) to their desire to be close to the Lord.


Kelly Nicole Collins Baptism 

The Apostles’ Creed 

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

Creator of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ,

his only Son, Our Lord who was conceived by the

Holy Spirit,  born of the Virgin Mary, suffered

under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell on the third day He arose again

from the dead.  He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the

Right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will

come  to judge the living and the dead.


I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the

communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection

of the body, and life everlasting.   Amen.


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