Word of the day
Reading of the day
A reading from the Book of Numbers
NM 13:1-2, 25–14:1, 26A-29A, 34-35
The LORD said to Moses [in the desert of Paran,]
"Send men to reconnoiter the land of Canaan,
which I am giving the children of Israel.
You shall send one man from each ancestral tribe,
all of them princes."
After reconnoitering the land for forty days they returned,
met Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation of the children of Israel
in the desert of Paran at Kadesh,
made a report to them all,
and showed the fruit of the country
to the whole congregation.
They told Moses: "We went into the land to which you sent us.
It does indeed flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit.
However, the people who are living in the land are fierce,
and the towns are fortified and very strong.
Besides, we saw descendants of the Anakim there.
Amalekites live in the region of the Negeb;
Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites dwell in the highlands,
and Canaanites along the seacoast and the banks of the Jordan."
Caleb, however, to quiet the people toward Moses, said,
"We ought to go up and seize the land, for we can certainly do so."
But the men who had gone up with him said,
"We cannot attack these people; they are too strong for us."
So they spread discouraging reports among the children of Israel
about the land they had scouted, saying,
"The land that we explored is a country that consumes its inhabitants.
And all the people we saw there are huge, veritable giants
(the Anakim were a race of giants);
we felt like mere grasshoppers, and so we must have seemed to them."
At this, the whole community broke out with loud cries,
and even in the night the people wailed.
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron:
"How long will this wicked assembly grumble against me?
I have heard the grumblings of the children of Israel against me.
Tell them: By my life, says the LORD,
I will do to you just what I have heard you say.
Here in the desert shall your dead bodies fall.
Forty days you spent in scouting the land;
forty years shall you suffer for your crimes:
one year for each day.
Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me.
I, the LORD, have sworn to do this
to all this wicked assembly that conspired against me:
here in the desert they shall die to the last man."
Gospel of the day
From the Gospel according to Matthew
MT 15: 21-28
At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
"Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon."
But he did not say a word in answer to her.
His disciples came and asked him,
"Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us."
He said in reply,
"I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
But the woman came and did him homage, saying, "Lord, help me."
He said in reply,
"It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs."
She said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters."
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
"O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish."
And her daughter was healed from that hour.
Words of the Holy Father
This woman’s inner strength, which enables her to overcome every obstacle, is to be found in her maternal love and in her faith that Jesus can grant her request. Jesus points to this humble woman as a model of unwavering faith. Her persistence in beseeching Christ’s intervention is incentive for us not to become discouraged, not to despair when we are burdened by life’s difficult trials. The Lord does not turn away in the face of our needs and, if at times he seems insensitive to our requests for help, it is in order to put to the test and to strengthen our faith. We must continue to cry out like this woman: “Lord, help me! Lord, help me!”. In this way, with perseverance and courage. He can help us to find our way, when we have lost the compass of our journey; when the road no longer seems flat but rough and arduous; when it is hard to be faithful to our commitments. Let us entrust ourselves to the Holy Spirit, so that he may help us to persevere in faith. (Angelus, 20 August 2017)