“The largely Jewish-Christian audience for whom Matthew writes would appreciate the sharp debate between Jesus and the Canaanite woman – it was part of their religious culture. The woman is commended because the depth of her need is greater than any possibility of taking offence. She is acutely aware that as a non-Jew she may not deserve anything at all, but she isn’t going to give up. The story is told to strengthen our faith. Don’t take offence, don’t give up if you think you are being ignored, don’t give up when others try to put you off, and don’t take no for an answer. She knows Jesus’ reputation and knows that he could heal her daughter if only he would.”
During this current crisis we have all had to adapt, for me coming out of lockdown has proved harder than I thought it would be, one positive thing that has happened is that standing in queues has led to many diverse conversations and in a lot of cases my own beliefs have come into the conversation, I imagine that most of those that I have spoken to had some idea of their own faith or lack of it, but NO Body put me down, whether they understood well that’s another matter.
“What looks somewhat racist (calling the Canaanites ‘dogs’) is turned around. In a society in which women didn’t speak to men, a woman is heard. This foreign woman, who had the temerity to speak to Jesus, has been offered salvation. The gospel is for people of all nations. Women matter. She has been fed, and indeed can share in the heavenly banquet – a point recalled in many English-speaking Eucharistic traditions: ‘We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table.’ She is one of us and we are one with her.”
How are we conformed by the church? How and why do we draw lines about who’s in and who’s out? People are easily scandalised about how other people worship and/or behave. Do we take offence? In many centuries, including our own, there has been a great deal of drawing of lines around who’s acceptable among Christian communities and who is not. Might we see this Gospel story as one that demonstrates that the Messiah has come not just for his own people – and certainly not just for ‘people like us’ – but for the whole world?
Interestingly I would ask you to ponder this, back in July at Blue Sky Mondays, we were visited by a Hindu lady, she had come to pray we welcomed her and listened intently to her stories, she then introduced us to three other Hindu ladies, excitingly telling them that they could come on Monday evening for some prayer time, initially it was slightly confusing but then I understood, I listened and new that God welcomes all – even if it was only so they could have some time in prayer or just wanted to talk. I did listen and I did understand.
We go out today, renewed and strengthened in faith
We go out today,
renewed and strengthened in faith,
ready to serve you, Lord,
and find you in the people we meet.
We go out to follow you, and our hearts.
Lead us, good Lord.
© ROOTS for Churches Ltd www.rootsontheweb.com Reproduced with permission.