Fr. Tony’s 8-Minute Homily

20th Sunday of Year A

August 20, 2023

August 20, 2023

Trust of Flying Trapeze Artists with Outstretched Arms

Abraham Lincoln - Never Give Up

Billy Graham's Story of A Boy Who Wants to Go To Heaven, But...

Begin w/ Anecdote

YouTube player

Outstretched Arms

As he lay on his hospital bed in Melbourne, an Australian Marist Brother told his gathered friends the story of his spirituality. It came from watching trapeze artists performing in a circus a few years ago. Trapeze artists are those who perform in a circus with swings. It is an air-borne performance.

Here is what one trapeze artist told him, “As a flyer I must have complete trust in my catcher, He has to be there for me with split–second precision and grab me out of the air as I come to him in the long jump.”

The flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything. When the artist flies, he has simply to stretch out his arms and hands and wait for the catcher to catch him and pull him safely over the apron behind the catcher.

The flyer should actually do nothing. The worst thing the flyer can do is to try to catch the catcher. The flyer is not supposed to catch the catcher. If the flyer grabbed the catcher’s wrists, he might break them, or the catcher might break the flyer’s wrists, and that would be the end of them both.

A flyer has to fly and the catcher has to catch, and the flyer has to trust with outstretched arms, that his catcher will be there for him.”

This is the trust we should have in Jesus, and the woman in today’s story demonstrated such a faith.

Begin w/ Anecdote

YouTube player

Never Give Up

Many years ago in Illinois, a young man with six months formal schooling to his credit ran for an office in the legislature. As might have been expected, he was beaten. Next, he entered business but failed in that too, and spent the next seventeen years paying the debts of his worthless partner. He fell in love with a charming lady, they became engaged – and she got sick and died, causing her lover a mini-nervous breakdown. He ran for Congress and was defeated. He then tried to obtain an appointment to the U.S. Land Office but didn’t succeed. He became a candidate for the Vice-Presidency and lost. Two years later he was defeated in a race for the Senate. He ran for President and finally was elected. That man was Abraham Lincoln. 

Today’s Gospel presents a Canaanite woman who persisted in her prayer on obtained from the Lord what she prayed for. 

Begin w/ Anecdote

YouTube player


Billy Graham once told of an incident that happened a long time ago when teachers could talk about religion in the classroom.

A teacher was talking to her class of young boys, and she asked, “How many of you would like to go to Heaven?”

All the hands instantly shot into the air at once, except one.

The teacher was astounded. She asked, “Charlie, you mean you don’t want to go to Heaven?”

“Sure, I want to go to Heaven,” he said. “But not with that bunch.” 

Unfortunately, that is how many religious groups feel about one another. Consider the Middle East where, in parts of Lebanon, Christian militias are fighting each other and in Syria and Iraq extremist Muslims are driving all Christians from their territories on pain of death, unless they convert. All three great Faiths in that part of the world trace their origins through the patriarch Abraham. All three of them honor the Mosaic Law. All three are monotheistic. And yet as the political walls of this world come tumbling down, the religious walls seem to grow higher and higher. How tragic.

Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus healed the daughter of a Gentile woman in spite of the religious prejudice of his fellow Jews for the Gentiles.

Source: Rev. King Duncan

Fr. Tony's Homily

Fr. Tony’s

20th Sunday of Year A

Fr. Tony started his homily ministry (Scriptural Homilies) in 2003 while he was the chaplain at Sacred Heart residence, applying his scientific methodology to the homily ministry. By word of mouth, it spread to hundreds of priests and Deacons, finally reaching Vatican Radio website. These homilies reach nearly 3000 priests and Deacons by direct email every week.

The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000. It may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

Expansive and universal nature of the “Kingdom of God”

Fr. Tony's Homily

All three readings today speak of the expansive and universal nature of the “Kingdom of God,” in contrast with the theory that salvation was to be offered first to the Jews and then, through them alone, to the rest of the world. Although God set the Hebrew people apart as His chosen race, He included all nations in His plan for salvation and blessed all the families of the earth in Abraham (Gn 12:1-3).

1st ReadingIs 56:1, 6-7

By declaring through the prophet Isaiah (first reading), “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,” God reveals the truth that in His eyes there is no distinction among human beings on the basis of race, caste, or color. The long-expected Messianic kingdom was intended not only for the Jews but for all nations as well.

CONTINUE READING - 1st Reading Comments

The third part of the book of the prophet Isaiah (chapters 56-66), was written mainly for the Jews who were returning from the Babylonian exile to join their relatives who had been left behind in Judea. But today’s lesson is primarily addressed to those Jews who, after the Exile had officially ended, still chose to remain in Babylon as Jews among the Gentiles.

In this passage, the Lord God not only pleaded with these people (who preferred exile to the labor of returning to the Promised Land), to come home to Jerusalem and help to rebuild the City and the Temple, but also tried to make them understand the role the Gentiles would have in the coming Messianic Kingdom.

Though in the past all who came to the God of Israel were required to accept the Law and the Covenant, God’s concern for those outside that Covenant led Him to a new and radical solution. 

“The foreigners,” the Lord God declares to us today through Isaiah, “who join themselves to Yahweh, ministering to Him, loving the name of Yahweh and becoming His servants . . . them I will bring to My holy mountain and make joyful in My house of prayer . . . for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” 

Thus Isaiah’s prophecy applying directly to the coing Messianic Kingdom assured them that their God was equally interested in the people of other nations and in the descendants of Abraham. Hence, the exclusivist claims of the Jews as God’s chosen people would have to yield as God made room for others. For besides the exiles of Israel, Yahweh would receive the non-Israelites who had joined themselves to the Lord.

In short, the prophet reports, everyone has a part to play in God’s plan — even those who don’t belong to the “true religion.”

The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000. It may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

2nd ReadingRom 11:13-15, 29-32

In the second reading, Paul explains that, although the Jews were the chosen people, many of them rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah, and, consequently, God turned to the Gentiles who received mercy through their Faith in Jesus.

CONTINUE READING - 2nd Reading Comments

Here, Paul asks how God could apparently go back on His  promise  to Abraham that Abraham’s descendants would always be God’s chosen people, now that those descendants had rejected Jesus. Paul answers his own question by explaining that God’s plan all along had allowed for  the Jews’ rejection of Jesus, so that the few Jews who accepted Jesus and went out to preach the Good News, like Paul himself, would be forced to turn to the Gentiles and bring them into the New Covenant. 

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, God permits evil only if He can draw a greater good out of it. Thus, God permitted both Jews and Gentiles to disobey Him so that He could show His mercy by offering eternal life to everyone who wishes to have it. 

Frustrated by the slow pace of Jewish conversions  and prevented from continuing to work directly among the Jews by the overt, physical hostility Jewish synagogues  showed him and his companions, Paul directed his preaching missions to the Gentiles, so that the Jews would become jealous and accept Jesus.  Thus, God’s secret plan to invite all people into the Covenant would be revealed and completed.

By the statement, “Their rejection is the reconciliation of the world,” Paul meant that the Jews’ rejection of Jesus allowed the world (the pagans, the Gentiles), to be reconciled to God.

By asking the question, “What will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” Paul meant that the Jews who at last accepted Christ would receive new life through the once spiritually dead pagans. Paul was convinced that the Jewish nation would eventually accept Christ because God’s” irrevocable” call, given to them through Abraham, was a call to eternal salvation.

Paul’s failure to convert his fellow-Jews serves as a model for us who must accept failure in our own lives, especially when it concerns our loved ones who refuse what we judge to be to their advantage. Paul’s message is also a challenge to us to pray fervently and often for the conversion of the Jews.

The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000. It may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

Gospel – Mt 15:21-28

In the Gospel story, Jesus demonstrates that salvation was meant for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews by healing the daughter of a Gentile woman as a reward for her strong Faith. Thus, Jesus shows us that God’s mercy and love are available to all who call out to Him in Faith.

CONTINUE READING - Gospel Comments

The significance of the miracle: The Gospels describe only two miraculous healings Jesus performed for Gentiles:  the healing of the centurion’s servant (Mt 8:10-12) in Capernaum, and the healing of the daughter of the Canaanite woman which we hear today. The encounter with the Canaanite woman took place outside Jewish territory in Tyre and Sidon, two coastal cities, twenty-five and fifty miles north of Galilee in present-day Lebanon.  The story of this miracle is told by Mark (7:24-30) as well as by Matthew (21-23).  Both miracle  stories foreshadow the extension of the Gospel, the Good News, to the whole world.  

The woman in the today’s miracle belonged to the old Canaanite stock of the Syro-Phoenician race.  The Canaanites were the ancestral enemies of the Jews and were regarded as pagans and idolaters and, hence, as ritually unclean.  But this woman showed “a gallant and an audacious love which grew until it worshipped at the feet of the Divine, an indomitable persistence springing from an unconquerable hope, a cheerfulness which would not be dismayed” (Fr. James Rowland).  

By granting the persistent request of the pagan woman, Jesus demonstrates that his mission is to break down the barriers and to remove the long-standing walls of division and mutual prejudice between the Jews and the Gentiles. God does not discriminate but welcomes all who believe in Him, who ask for His mercy and who try to do His will.

Trustful persistence rewarded.  Jesus first ignores both the persistent cry of the woman and the impatience of his disciples to send the woman away. He then tries to awaken true Faith in the heart of this woman by an indirect refusal, telling her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  But the woman is persistent in her request. She kneels before him and begs“Lord, help me.”  Now Jesus makes a seemingly harsh statement, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 

The term “dogs was a derogatory Jewish word for the Gentiles. Dogs were regarded by the Jews as unclean, because they would eat anything given to them, including pork. The woman noticedhowever, that Jesus had used the word kunariois–the word for household pets – rather than the   ordinary Greek word for dogs – kuon.   She also observed that Jesus had used the word for dogs in a challenging way, urging her to answer in kind — a sort of test of the woman’s Faith.  So, she immediately matched wits with Jesus. 

Her argument runs like this:  Pets are not outsiders but insiders.  They not only belong to the family but are part of the family. While they do not have a seat at the table, they enjoy intimacy at the family’s feet.  Hence, the woman replied: “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table!” (Mt 15:27), expressing her Faith that Jesus could and would heal her daughter.  

Jesus was completely won over by the depth of her Faith, her confidence and her wit and responded with delight, “Woman, great is your Faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.” We notice that the woman was refused three times by Jesus before he granted her request; finally, at her the fourth attempt, Jesus rewarded her persistence, curing her daughter in answer to  her plea. This silently underlines Jesus’  teaching (Lk 18:1-8) amplified by Paul in Eph 6:18)  that we must persist in prayer.  

This Gospel episode is also an account of a woman who got more from the Kingdom of God than she had hoped for. She had come to Jesus asking for one miracle, and she got two: her daughter was exorcised of her demonic possession and received a new life, and the mother herself, through her experience with Christ, found a new life as well.

The greatness of this woman’s Faith consists in:

a) her willingness to cross the barrier of racism;
b) her refusal to be put off or ignored because of her position in life and
c) her humility in admitting that she did not deserve the Master’s attention and time. 

The Catechism reminds us that the woman in today’s Gospel recognized in Jesus the messianic power attributed to the awaited “Son of David” (CCC #439). For, if one truly believes that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, one trusts him and fashions one’s prayer requests accordingly (CCC #2610).

The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000. It may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.


Click banner below and choose an anecdote in the left column which best utilizes the theme of your homily.


After stating your theme, introduce the readings. Then, select content from the expanded comment section you want to include.

Life Message

Conclude your homily with a Life Message. Select the one that best fits the theme of your homily.


20th Sunday of Year A

Persist in prayer with trustful confidence

Although the essential parts of prayer are adoration and thanksgiving, the prayer of petition, like that of contrition, plays a big part in most people’s daily life. We cannot provide, by our unaided selves, for our spiritual and temporal needs. Christ himself has told us to ask him for these needs: “Ask and you shall receive.” Asking with fervor and perseverance proves that we have the “great Faith” we need to be able to receive all that Christ wants to grant us in response to our requests. We must realize and remember that we do not always get exactly what we ask for, but rather what God knows we need, what He wants for us, and what is really best for us.  What we need most is to receive the peace and security that come from being in harmony with God’s will for us. 

As Christians, we also know that our particular requests may not always be for our good, or for the final good of the person for whom we are praying. In that case, the good God will not grant what would be to our, or their, eternal harm. But if the prayer is sincere and persevering, we will always get an answer – one which is better than what we asked for. Hence, let us trust that every time we pray for something, the answer is already on its way, even before we have asked God for it. We just need to trust God’s timetable and infinite wisdom that He will answer us according to His will and purpose.

Pull down walls of separation

Very often we set up walls which separate us from God and from one another. Today’s Gospel reminds us that God’s love and mercy are extended to all who call on him in Faith and trust, no matter who they are. In other words, God’s care extends beyond the boundaries of race and nation to the hearts of all who live, and God’s House is intended to become a House of prayer for all peoples. It is therefore fitting that we should pray that the walls which our pride, intolerance, fear, and prejudice have raised, may crumble. Next, we have to be grateful to God for all the blessings we enjoy. As baptized members of the Christian community, we have been given special privileges and easy access to God’s love.  But we also have serious responsibilities arising from these gifts. One of these responsibilities is to make clear to others, with true humility and compassion, that God’s love, mercy, and healing are for them also because they too are the children of God.


Fr. Tony’s Homily

Fr. Tony’s Homily

Fr. Tony’s Homily

Fr. Tony’s Homily

Fr. Tony’s Homily