Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, Intermediate

Download PDF

Intermediate Session

Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

Matthew 15:21-28

Opening Prayer

Let us pray.

Thank you, God, for helping us when we are sick.

Help us reach out to others who are sick or in pain.

In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.


Opening Life Reflection

The theme for today is the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. To begin, invite each child to create a card for someone who is sick to help remind them of God’s healing love. Provide paper and markers. Discuss:

• Who helps you when you are sick?

• How is God with us when we are sick?

• How can you help a friend or family member when they are sick?

Allow time for discussion. Jesus healed many sick people during his life on earth. His ministry of healing continues in the Church today through the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

Listening to the Word of God

In the Old Testament reading listen to hear how God’s house has room for all people.

Read Isaiah 56:1, 6-7.
Allow for silence.

Scripture Discussion Starters

• Who is God’s message for?

• How are God’s people to live?

• How is God’s house described?

In the gospel today listen to find out what happens when a woman asks Jesus for help.

Read Matthew 15:21-28.

Allow for silence.

• Why does the woman ask Jesus for help?

• What do the disciples want Jesus to do?

• How does the woman show her faith in Jesus?

• Why does Jesus heal the woman’s daughter of a demon?

Scripture Background

Provide 2-3 minutes of background information on the readings using theCatechist Background section.

In the Old Testament reading today, the prophet Isaiah helps the Israelites understand that they are not the only people favored by God. The prophet knew that the people of Israel were in danger of thinking of themselves as the privileged chosen people. Today’s passage makes clear that God’s message is not for the people of Israel alone. God’s house has room for everybody. All are welcome in God’s house of prayer.

In today’s gospel a Canaanite woman persistently asks Jesus for help. Matthew wrote this passage at a time when the Jewish people disliked the Canaanites. The disciples want to get rid of the woman because she is bothering them. At first Jesus’ response is unsettling. He tells the woman that he has come to save only Israel. But the woman continues to ask Jesus to help her daughter. She does not give up.

Jesus cures the Canaanite woman’s daughter of a demon. Jesus holds up the woman’s faith as reason for the healing. By this miracle Jesus shows that faith in him is most important. With his act of healing, Jesus teaches his followers that God’s saving love is for all people. The healing miracle in today’s gospel is also a sign of the coming of God’s kingdom.

Questions for Deeper Reflection

• Why is God’s saving message for all people?

• What does Jesus’ healing power show us about God’s love?

• Why is it important to have faith in Jesus? [If you are not going to continue with the doctrinal discussion, proceed to the Gospel in Life.]

Doctrinal Discussion Starters
Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick
God sent Jesus into the world to heal the sick. Sickness is not a punishment from God. Throughout the gospels we are given examples of how Jesus reaches out to people in need with God’s healing touch. This ministry of healing continues in the Church today through the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick helps to strengthen our faith in Jesus when we are ill. We receive the grace to face our sickness or dying with courage and hope.

The Church celebrates Anointing of the Sick with any Christian who experiences the difficulty of physical or mental illness, old age, or is facing death. To administer the sacrament, a bishop or priest prays over, lays hands upon, and anoints those who are sick with holy oil. The sacrament should be preceded by the Word of God (except in an emergency) and be celebrated with the sick person surrounded by family, friends and other believers.

Dealing with serious illness and death can cause us to feel alone and afraid. Our faith teaches that we are not alone. God is with us. In the sacrament for the sick we hear the comforting prayer, “Father in heaven, through this holy anointing grant N. comfort in her suffering. When she is afraid, give her courage, when afflicted, give her patience, when dejected, afford her hope, and when alone, assure her of the support of your holy people” (PC125).

• How does the Church help us when we are sick?
• What is the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick?
• How does Jesus’ ministry of healing continue today?

The Gospel in Life

This week give the card you made to someone who is sick, or ask a parish minister to bring it to someone in need of God’s healing.

Posted in: Sessions A