Thus says the Lord, ‘Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.’ Isaiah 56:1
God of freedom, you have broken the tyranny of sin and sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts:
give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service, that all people may know the glorious liberty of the children of God;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
- Genesis 45:1-15
- Psalm 133
- Romans 11:13-32
- Matthew 15:21-28
- Next week:
- Exodus 1:8-2:10
- Psalm 124
- Romans 12:1-8
- Matthew 16:13-20
A Thought to Ponder
Pentecost 12 – Matthew 15:21-28
Jesus cures the Canaanite woman: “Lord, even the dogs eat the crumbs from
their tables of their masters.”
The story of the Canaanite woman was a marker for the Christians of the predominately Gentile Christian communities. Jesus’ healing of the daughter of the persistent Canaanite mother became a prophetic model for the relationship between Jewish and Gentile Christians. The woman is not only a Gentile but also a descendent of the Canaanites, one of Israel’s oldest and most despised enemies. Despite Jesus’ rebuff of her (equating Gentiles with “dogs,” as Jews referred to anyone who was not a Jew), the woman has the presence of mind to point out that “even dogs are given crumbs and scraps from their masters’ tables.” She displays both great faith in Jesus (addressing him by the Messianic title of “Son of David”) and great love for her daughter (subjecting herself to possible ridicule and recrimination for approaching Jesus) that should inspire both Jew and Gentile – and Christian.
Jesus does not see in the Canaanite woman an old enemy; he sees, in her great compassion and love for her sick daughter, a loving mother; he sees, in her courage to come forward in the face of imminent rejection and denunciation, a woman of great faith.
The Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel seeks what we all seek: to be acknowledged as good, to be respected as a child of God, to be welcomed as a sister and brother to all.
In honouring the goodness and love of the Canaanite mother (who, as a Canaanite, is despised by Jesus’ hearers), Jesus opens up our perspectives and illuminates our vision, enabling us to see one another as God sees us.
Most of us would consider ourselves fair-minded and unbiased, neither bigots nor racists; but if we’re honest, we would probably recognise times we have treated people as if they were “a little less human” because they did not possess some quality or ingredient we consider imperative. We underestimate people because they are somehow different; we treat them as inferiors because they don’t quite measure up to what we think they should or should not be. God does not measure his people by our standards but welcomes all who seek him in faith.
Pope Francis often speaks of reaching out to those on the boundaries or “peripheries,” to those who are driven to the margins and edges of society by poverty, violence and illness. In Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman, we begin to recognize those divisions and chasms between us and others and to go the peripheries and cross those boundaries that are obstacles to realizing God’s kingdom of justice and peace in this time and place of ours. © Connections/MediaWork
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