“I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
A reading from the Book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:1-7)
“At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.” Thus says the Lord: “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from afar. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall adorn yourself with timbrels, and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. Again you shall plant vineyards upon the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit. For there shall be a day when watchmen will call in the hill country of Ephraim: ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God. ”’ For thus says the Lord: “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘The Lord has saved his people, the remnant of Israel.”’
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Jeremiah 31:10.11-l2ab.13 (R. see 10d)
R/. The Lord will keep us, as a shepherd keeps his flock.
Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the islands afar off;
say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.” R.
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob,
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Sion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord. R.
Then shall the maidens rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. R.
ALLELUIA Luke 7: 16
Alleluia. A great prophet has arisen among us, and God has visited his people. Alleluia.
“O woman, great is your faith! ”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 15:21-28)
At that time: Jesus went away and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
The Gospel of the Lord.
God’s love is unconditional. His mercies toward us is incomprehensibly real. Human beings seek justice for the wrongs they suffer. We demand that defaulters pay. But God has a different attitude towards those who offend him. The Lord confronts us with an undying love that does not diminish even though we are sinful. He confronts us with news of deliverance. This news of salvation is received with merrymaking, dancing and festive singing. And this is God’s promise to us, the lost sheep and to the stranger who now believes in God’s love and mercy towards all. The deliverance that God brings does not depend on any merit of ours. In imitation of God our father, we are encouraged to be merciful to all and to love unconditionally.