Why do peoplediscriminate against others? Is it fear or ignorance or pride that keeps people from seeing others the way God sees them? What can we do to help those who may be from a different race or culture feel welcome in our parish, our school, our community? Pray the opening prayer as you ask that God's criteria for accepting others may become your criteria: Lord, help me keep my heart open to all your people.
In the first reading Isaiah points out that God intends salvation to be available for all persons. God does not make distinctions based on ethnicity, social class, or economic standing. The prophet affirms that in God's eyes, believing in the Lord and keeping God's commandments are what really matter. These are the criteria by which we will be judged. The joy of God's kingdom awaits all who are faithful.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2
Paul's attitude is a good example of how God can turn bad situations into fruitful opportunities. It also shows how important it is to believe in a positive outcome! All too often we only see the loss, the tragedy, the difficulty, the barrier. Are you able to look at a difficult situation and see the potential for good that is there? What can we do to cultivate a more positive attitude in our own lives, within our families, with our colleagues?
The second reading also speaks about discrimination. The first members of the Church were Jews who were unwilling to accept non-Jews into the Church. St. Paul reminds them that he is the "apostle to the Gentiles." The discriminating attitude of the early members paved the way for Paul to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. It also enabled the Gentiles to respond more easily without the influence of the Jewish culture. Paul hoped that his ministry to the Gentiles would provoke the other members of the Church to a resurgence of their faith.
Where does it hurt?
How can God heal the hurt?
Discussion Questions for Gospel
The Canaanite woman was a marginalized person in the society of Jesus' time, because of her gender, her race, and her religious practice. Have you ever experienced rejection because of your gender, race, or religion? How did you deal with it? Have you ever been asked for help by someone of another race or culture? How have you responded? How are women in particular treated in today's society? Jesus' attitude towards the Canaanite woman is one that all should imitate, his acceptance of her, as both a woman and a foreigner.
In the gospel reading, Jesus meets up with a very determined Canaanite woman who begs him to help her troubled daughter. Since the woman was a Gentile, the apostles wanted to send her away, but Jesus continued to speak with her. Besides her great faith and courage, the woman also showed tremendous love for her child. She was willing to risk rejection for breaking through the barriers of convention to ask for help. She truly believed that Jesus could help her daughter, and despite what seemed like his initial reluctance, she simply wasn't going to give up. She persisted, even begging him. Eventually Jesus praised her undaunting faith and healed her daughter. Jesus' reply is one we would all love to hear: "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done as you wish."