The only person in all of Sacred Scripture to win an argument with Jesus, is the Canaanite woman of Matthew 15:21.  That woman, who was not of Israel, was stubborn, to the point that the disciples asked him [Jesus] to `Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.’”  Jesus was attempting to limit his mission to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (verse 24). 

Difficulty did not stop the Canaanite woman.  She kept on arguing.  When Jesus said, “It is not right to take the [spiritual] food of the children [of Israel] and throw it to the dogs (verse 26),” the Canaanite woman did not let him get away with that.  She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters (verse 27).  In verse 28, the pericope finishes, … `Let it be done for you as you wish.’  And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.  Her Faith praised God.

The Church remembers the Canaanite woman to demonstrate that legitimate prayer can be difficult.  One prayer for this Sunday arises from Isaiah 56:7, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.  Romans 11:13-14 shows how difficult prayer can be: I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous …

O God, let all the nations [including the Canaanites] praise you!  is the Responsorial Antiphon for this Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  The prayer for this Sunday is for the courage to acknowledge the truth, as the Canaanite woman did, even when such acknowledgement is not welcomed.  God welcomes praise from all, not only those approved by the religious establishment, whichever that might be.


First Reading:                    Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

Responsorial Psalm:          Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8 (4)

Second Reading:               Romans 11:13-15, 29-32

Alleluia:                             cf. Matthew 4:23

Gospel:                             Matthew 15:21-28



Annotated Bibliography

Material above the double line draws from material below the double line.  Those uninterested in scholarly and tangential details should stop reading here.  If they do, however, they may miss some interesting details.


Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

Isa 56:7

Sean Freyne, “The Galilean Jesus and a Contemporary Christology”[1]

Mark 11:15-19 puts the words of Isaiah, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples on the lips of Jesus.  This, however, is not enough.  Scholars cannot make up their minds whether Jesus wanted to obliterate all peoples or work them into his favorite nation of Israel.  Scholars are clear that Isaiah wanted to incorporate all nations into Israel.  The Sunday Lectionary does not use Mark 11:15-19.


Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8 (4)


Romans 11:13-15, 29-32

Rom 11:25-36

Christoph Stenschke, review, Jochen Flebbe, Solus Deus:  Untersuchungen zur Rede von Gott im Brief des Paulus an die Römer[2]

Stenschke is unimpressed with Flebbe, whose premise is to separate God from Christ in Romans.  Stenschke argues that the first verse in Romans inextricably joins Christ with the God of Abraham.  Flebbe, to make his case, argues from God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.


cf. Matthew 4:23


Matthew 15:21-28

Matt 15:21-28

Daniel G. Groody, C.S.C., “Crossing the Divide:  Foundations of a Theology of Migration and Refugees”[3]

Groody argues from letting the Canaanite woman and others cross the divide between insider and outsider to argue that Jesus opposed all barriers designed to exclude anyone because of standards of state, religion, or a particular ideology.


Matt 15:22

Walter T. Wilson, review of Matthias Konradt, Israel, Kirche und die Volker im Matthausevangelium[4]

Wilson approves the arguments Konradt makes about Israel, Church, and people in Matthew.  Konradt reasons that the early Church did not see itself as a new Israel, but rather as a new covenant in a new relationship with all humanity, in this case, represented by the Canaanite woman.  Konradt shows that Matthew contextualizes Jesus as the promised Davidic messiah.  The Canaanite woman, therefore, addresses Jesus as, Lord, Son of David.  Son of David is messianic.




Matt 15:24

Daniel W. Ulrich, review of Joel Willitts, Matthew’s Messianic Shepherd-King: In Search of `The Lost Sheep of the House of Israel’[5]

Ulrich reports that Willitts uses questionable assumptions, one of which is that the house of Israel in verse 24 refers to what Ulrich calls the Northern Kingdom, but the NABRE identifies as Phoenicia.[6]  Willitts assumes that Jesus began his mission confined to the area of Tyre and Sidon.  Ulrich is persuasive that Willitts rests on shaky intellectual ground.


Divergences between the Lectionary and the NABRE[7]


In 2011, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops authorized a revised translation of the New American Bible (NAB), thereby setting up tension with the Lectionary used at Sunday Mass.  Scholars are citing the new translation as NABRE. 


Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

Verse 1



Verse 6

Lectionary:    The foreigners … ministering … loving … becoming … free from profanation … hold

NABRE:        And foreigners … to minister … to love … to become … without profaning it … hold fast

The participle gives a sense of ongoing action; the infinitive a sense of purpose.  The meaning is different.

Verse 7

Lectionary:    sacrifices

NABRE:        their sacrifices

Psalm 67

Verse 2

Lectionary:    May God have pity on us …

NABRE:        May God be gracious to us …


Verse 3

Lectionary:    So may your way be known upon earth

NABRE:        So shall your way be known upon the earth

Verse 4

Lectionary:    let

NABRE:        may

The Vulgate and the NABRE both indicate that what the Lectionary documents as verse 4 is only part of verse 4, namely 4b.

Verse 5

Lectionary:    exult … the nations on earth you guide.

NABRE:        rejoice … you guide the nations upon the earth.

The Lectionary is awkward.

Verse 6

Lectionary:    O God

NABRE:        God

Verse 8

Lectionary:    and may all the ends of the earth fear him!

NABRE:        that the ends of the earth may revere him.

The difference between fear and revere is vast.  One fears what is evil; one revers what is good.  Note that the NABRE ends verse 8 with a period, where the Lectionary uses an exclamation point.


Romans 11:13-15, 29-32

Verse 13

Lectionary:    Omits both now and then without apparent change in meaning.

NABRE:        Now … then

Verse 31

Lectionary:    now

NABRE:        [now] [sic]


Matthew 15:21-28

Verse 21

Lectionary:    At that time, Jesus withdrew …

NABRE:        Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew …

Verse 23

Lectionary:    Jesus … Jesus’

NABRE:        he … His …

The NABRE uses pronouns, rather than proper nouns.

Verse 25

Lectionary:    Jesus

NABRE:        him

Verse 28

Lectionary:    the woman’s

NABRE:        her



For recurring themes in Sacred Scripture, see the following.  The exclamation point (!) indicates principal reference lists of passages related by a common theme or expression.  The exclamation point sometimes also functions as a semi-colon, comma, or period.  Italics of the same verse (I supply the book and chapter) indicates a special relevance.  Commas separate verses within the same book and semi-colons separate books.  The abbreviation for following is f.  With this material, I am trying to lay a foundation for developing Biblical themes the next time through the Cycles.  I intend to add in which Lectionary readings to find the relevant passages.


Sacred Scripture develops themes for the following readings in Romans 11:13-15, 29-32:


Verse 13       Romans 11:5 f.; Galatians 6:8; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9; Galatians 5:24!

Verse 14       Galatians 5:18, 4:6 f.; Deuteronomy 14:1.    The Greek manuscripts are difficult at the words are sons of God that I find nowhere in any of my Bibles, including the Vulgate, KJV, and New Jerusalem.

Verse 15       2 Timothy 1:7! 1 John 4:18, 23; Galatians 4:5 f.; Ephesians 1:5; Mark 14:36.

Verse 29       1 Peter 1:2; Ephesians 1:5; Philippians 3:21! 2 Corinthians 4:4! Genesis 1:27; Colossians 1:18! Hebrews 2:10; John 20:17!

Verse 30       2 Thessalonians 2:13 f.; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 2:18.  Verses 30-32 show causality:  because … in order that … [in order] that.  These verses are showing why, rather than how, disobedience happened.  The Greek is not showing motive, but rather cause-effect relationship.[8]

Verse 31       Psalm 118:6; Matthew 1:23.

Verse 32       Romans 8:3! John 3:16! Genesis 22:16; Romans 4:25! Hebrews 7:25; Isaiah 50:8.



Sacred Scripture develops themes for the following readings in Matthew 15:21-28:


Verse 21       Matthew 15:21-28 Mark 7:24-30, 3:8; Matthew 17:15!

Verse 22       Matthew 9:27!

Verse 23       Acts 16:17.    The Greek manuscripts are difficult at the word us, in she keeps calling out after us. 

Verse 24       Matthew 10:6! Romans 15:8.

Verse 26       Matthew 7:6.

Verse 27       Luke 1:21.

Verse 28       Matthew 8:13!  O woman shows the mind of Jesus and is filled with deep emotion.  This is one of only eight places in the New Testament with such an emotion-charged statement.  Dogs may better be translated as puppies.[9]



For my background and more on sources see the Appendix file.  Personal Notes are on the web site at  From this point on, unless otherwise noted, my Bible of preference will be the NABRE.[10]

[1] Theological Studies, Vol. 70, No. 2 (June 2009) 288.


[2] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 72, No. 1 (January 2010) 148.


[3] Theological Studies, Vol. 70, No. 3 (September 2009) 654.


[4] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 4 (October 2008) 836.


[5] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 2 (April 2009) 425.


[6] Saint Joseph Edition of The New American Bible:  Revised Edition (New Jersey:  Catholic Book Publishing Corp., 2011) opposite page 12.


[7] Saint Joseph Edition of The New American Bible:  Revised Edition (New Jersey:  Catholic Book Publishing Corp., 2011).


[8] Daniel B. Wallace, With Scripture, Subject, and Greek Word Indexes: Greek Grammar:  Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Michigan: Zondervan, 1996) 167-168.


[9] Daniel B. Wallace, With Scripture, Subject, and Greek Word Indexes: Greek Grammar:  Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Michigan: Zondervan, 1996) 68, 69.


[10] Saint Joseph Edition of The New American Bible:  Revised Edition (New Jersey:  Catholic Book Publishing Corp., 2011.