Today’s gospel is very revealing about Jesus if we think about it. All of us are very tied up in his divinity and his sonship and oneness with the Father and Holy Spirit, but we forget that he was truly human born as an infant and growing physically to manhood and in wisdom and knowledge and understanding. More than anything he was a person of his time mirroring the outlook and feelings and prejudices that surrounded him. As he grew and as his mission grew so too did he.
Going into Canaan in today’s gospel, he was going into a gentile world, a place of unbelievers, a place devoid of the lost sheep of Israel. This woman approaches him without escort of a man, in fact alone brazenly seeking him out. Such things didn’t happen in that culture, women never approached men alone. Jesus is at first harsh with the woman, calling her a dog, an unbeliever not worthy to share in the goods of a family. Yet, the woman was not put off by this, in fact, she stood up to Jesus saying that even dogs get the scraps thrown and falling on the floor. The result was that Jesus saw her great faith and responded to her request.
As a result, we see Jesus the man growing in his understanding and experiencing faith and what it means to believe and the lengths people will go who believe. It is a moment that he sees faith as a defining thing. After all he had condemned the religious leaders as hypocrites who paid lip service to God and practiced only what was convenient to them. They were quick to place rules and laws on others but didn’t do the same to themselves.
This woman in her time and in the surrounding countries had no standing. Even in Jewish society Women had no relevancy except as subordinate to men. In fact, that attitude kind of prevailed even into the last century and does exist even today. But our point today is faith. God created everything, the universe, men, women and everything else in it. God embraces all people. God did not create evil, that was from humanity. God looks for all and calls for all. He expects that we should do the same. We should be concerned for all, welcome all.
You might say it is not so easy, but think about it. Sure we don’t meet all or even great numbers of people, we’re not all world travelers, or missionaries. But how many do we meet or encounter in a day, in a week? How do we act? What is our demeanor? Do we walk with blinders or are we kind and friendly. Do we see the homeless, the hungry? Sure there are phonies out there, but not all are. My thought is that if we did one good thing a week, encouraged or influenced only one person a week, Christ and faith in him would increase and our reach would be more than we would see. .
Fr. Joe R