Send her away Print
Sunday scripture column
Written by Kevin Perrotta, Catholic News Service   

August 16, 2020
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

1) Is 56:1, 6-7
Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8
2) Rom 11:13-15, 29-32
Gospel: Mt 15:21-28

Today's readings spur me to think about our family becoming white.

My grandfather Saverio came from southern Italy to New York at the beginning of the last century. He met Rose, a native New Yorker, who lived in the tenement next door. They fell in love and got married.

For marrying an Italian immigrant, the law of the time stripped Rose of her citizenship. The lawmakers welcomed Italians for their labor but didn't want them to settle here. Nana could no longer vote.

'Send them away'

Clearly, Italians -- and Italian Americans who married them -- were not white. White society's attitude to such people could be summed up with an adaptation of the disciples' words about a foreigner in today's gospel: "Send them away."

Fifty years later, their younger son -- my dad -- and my mom bought a house in a New Jersey suburb. The family in the house whose back yard abutted ours was Black.

Their street, one over from ours, was in the little neighborhood in town where Black families were allowed to buy houses -- a minighetto. The contrast between our freedom and their lack of it demonstrated that the Perrottas were now white.

How convenient for us. How inconvenient for our Black neighbors. They were still back there in the category my grandparents had been in: "Your labor is wanted, but not you."

Part of the group

I wonder how the children who grew up on the next street fared in life. Their prospects were not so good. And what about their grandchildren today?

Even more, I wonder, What is it about us humans? We seem to be hard-wired for a kind of group thinking: "If you're part of my group, I welcome you -- but not if you're part of that other group. Our group is superior, your group is inferior. We control you; you don't control us."

I would like to suppose that this kind of thinking has ebbed somewhat in our society over the past few decades. But, of course, I do my supposing from the position of someone whose family has become white.

I do believe that God's word can change us. In today's reading from Isaiah, God says, "The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord . . . 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."

"All peoples." Let's think about that.

Kevin Perrotta is the editor and an author of the Six Weeks With the Bible series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.


1) Ez 37:12-14

Psalm 130:1-8

2) Rom 8:8-11

Gospel: Jn 11:1-45

Pope's March Prayer Intention Print
In 2020, the Pope will present one prepared prayer intention per month, rather than two.
Pope's March Prayer Intention
Catholics in China
We pray that the Church in China may persevere in its faithfulness to the Gospel and grow in unity.


Daily Scripture Readings Print
Sunday, Sep. 01, 2013 -- 10:21 AM
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Scripture readings from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.
Holy Days of Obligation Print

The following are Holy Days of Obligation for 2020.

Holy Days of Obligation Description
Wednesday, Jan. 1
Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God
Thursday, May 21
Ascension Thursday
Saturday, Aug. 15
Solemnity of the Assumption
Sunday, Nov. 1
All Saints Day
Tuesday, Dec. 8
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Friday, Dec. 25
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
Prayer to St. Raphael Print

photo of Pilgrim Icon of St. Raphael

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners.

We beg you, assist us in all our needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the "medicine of God" we humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of our souls and the ills that afflict our bodies.

We especially ask your guidance of our diocese as we journey toward the rebuilding of a cathedral bearing your name, and the great grace of purity to prepare us to be temples of the Holy Spirit. As our intercessor, beg the Blessed Trinity to prosper the work of our hands and, above all, to bring us, face-to-face, into their Holy presence.


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