Friday, August 15, 2014

Gospel text for Sunday 17 August 2014

Matthew 15.21-28        Jesus left Gennesaret and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting 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." He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food 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, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly

Reflection        Oh dear, how shall we deal with this incredibly rude Jesus? How will we justify his heartless behavior? How could the son of God behave this way? And then the Canaanite woman reminds us, Jesus is Lord and he is also the son of David, born of Mary, of woman. He is also fully human. He was raised as an observant Jew. He knew the Hebrew scriptures and the temple customs. It was as natural for Jesus to see the Canaanite woman as an untouchable stranger who had no business approaching him and asking for his help as it is for many Americans to see the Central American women and children entering this country illegally as strangers or aliens who have no business entering this country and asking for help. 
Yes, Jesus is the son of God and Jesus is the son of humanity; fully divine and fully human. For reasons we will never know the Canaanite woman recognized the dual natures of Jesus, Lord and Son of David. After all his healing, preaching, exorcisisms and raising people from the dead, this story offers a glimpse of Jesus’ humanity. Just like every one of us, Jesus was subjected to the conditions of his social, cultural and religious context. And, just like us, Jesus had the capacity to stretch beyond the limits of his condioned social and emotional responses and become more compassionate. 
Something happened to Jesus in his exchange with the Canaanite woman. His original idea of who he should and should not relate with was changed. His notion of who was eligible for his help and healing was radically challenged. The Canaanite woman’s persistent faith pierced the depths of Jesus’ humanity and sparked the mercy of his divinity.  And he was changed. Who are the people seeking mercy from us? With our human and divine natures balanced and engaged, how shall we respond? Do we dare follow Jesus, step into foreign territory, meet the stranger face to face and allow ourselves to be changed?
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