A lesson in Jesus’ exchange with the Canaanite woman...
Reflections on the readings for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 16, 2020): IS 56:1,6-7; PS 67:2-3,5,6,8; ROM 11:13-15,29-32; MT 15:21-28
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Whether two thousand years ago or today, the human race can cling to a divisive them and us viewpoint.
The readings for today ask us to think about all God’s people: all those who follow Christ and those who do not; all those who look and sound like us and those who do not; those who agree with our way of thinking and those who do not. In Jesus’ day, Jewish people generally looked down on Gentiles, and we see that clearly in the Gospel reading. In fact, Christ’s words make us uncomfortable. We are used to Him treating people with compassion, but that is not what we see in His encounter with the Canaanite woman, at least, at first. She approaches Him with respect, calling Him Lord and Son of David. She wants Him to heal her suffering daughter. Jesus ignores her. The disciples are annoyed with her continuing pleas and want our Lord to send her away. He responds by saying that His mission is to the lost sheep of Israel. When she keeps begging for His help, Christ insults her.
But this is a mother on a mission. She is fighting for the life of her daughter. So she persists with trust and humility as well as with wit and intelligence. “She said, ‘Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.’ Then Jesus said to her in reply, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour” (Matthew 15:27-28). Whether two thousand years ago or today, the human race can cling to a divisive them and us viewpoint. It is hard to break through the way we judge others and, instead, see them in all their dignity as children of God and our brothers and sisters. Our Savior ultimately respected and acknowledged this Canaanite woman, commending her deep faith and curing her child. We, too, must learn to appreciate people as individuals as Christ did. And we must also emulate this unnamed woman by keeping faith and persevering. When it would be easier to give up, we must realize that our Lord really is here for us – and for all. We have to hang on to hope and know that He will never let us down.