It is crystal clear that the Gospel of Mathew presents Jesus always as a welcoming person with great joy, filled with compassion and with an extraordinary sense of humor. However, it seems not really true for everyone. For instance, in today’s Gospel reading, Mathew shows an uncharacteristic rudeness from Jesus which is a very different attitude from how we know Him in similar circumstances. One of my favorite tones about Mathew is how he uses different analogy to show us how faith is the most important matter for Jesus? Either he portraits Jesus through his humanity or his divinity; the bottom line is how we get to really know him very profoundly.
Amazingly, Jesus, in his conversation with the woman, makes her feel that she doesn’t belong to or she might not fit neither she is the right person. Surprisingly, that doesn’t bother her at all and she became more annoying to the point the disciples told Jesus send her away. Oh, again send her away, get rid of her, she is annoying, she is disturbing, she is not really fit. This attitude from the apostles is really expressed unequivocally the one of the vast majority of the people in the church that often thinks others don’t meet the criteria to belong here. What was in Jesus’ mind when he said the Canaanite woman: "I was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel".
The other point I would like to present is about the reaction of the woman, in spite of being ignored, rejected even bullied by those hearing and watching from distance, she persists, kneels before Jesus and continues to plead on behalf of her daughter. The uncharacteristic rudeness of Jesus does not stop her to make her voice heard even though in the eyes of the disciples she did not belong. Three reasons that can explain why she did not belong: first, she is a woman; second, she is a Canaanite or gentile; and, third, she is annoying. But her determination has won her a space among Jesus’ followers and also makes her and her family eligible for healing and grace.
The lesson for us today is: "God’s love and mercy are universal - Inclusive, all-encompassing, complete – for all peoples of all time". The first and the second reading echoed that very explicitly as the Prophet Isaiah exhort the foreigners who join the Lord to keep the Sabbath free of profanity with the promise that they will be part of the house of prayer. Likewise, Saint Paul makes his plea to the gentiles about the gifts and the call of God to humanity is irrevocable and through Jesus they have received mercy and grace. God’s mercy is for all. So today let’s try to be very grateful because we belong to God, we can easily fit in his grace and mercy. We are the right people for Him.
Rev. Ducasse François
The Mission of St. Juliana Parish is to grow spiritually, evangelize and serve, united as one family of faith, welcoming and including each person with love.