20th Sunday of Year (A)
(Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28)
Or, as another eminent translation words it:
God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that He may be merciful to all.
But where are we today, People of God, when ‘disobedience’ is denied, and sinfulness is not recognized? Jesus came to the Jewish people proclaiming ‘Repent’, and the word meant something to those who heard Him as members of God’s Chosen People, trained by God over thousands of years. However, they were, ultimately, only willing to understand it in relation to liturgical faults and failings, they would not accept the fulness of Jesus’ teaching offering them eternal salvation for acknowledging their failure as sons and daughters of a heavenly Father wanting their hearts and minds in total love and humble obedience, not merely their sacrificial offerings of bulls and goats, sheep and oxen.
Today it is much worse: the word ‘repent’ has no meaning at all with people who have rejected their Christian heritage and can no longer no longer relate to Him Who said:
Why do you call Me good? No one is good, except one. God!
That is why Jesus did not go around ‘doing good’; doing, that is, His idea of good:
I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
In today’s Gospel event, He did actually cure the woman’s daughter but only after He had been able to admire His Father’s wisdom and grace behind the woman’s persistence and humility. Jesus did His Father’s will, did that only for which He had been sent, the only ‘good’ He knew was His Father’s good, planned for Him, Jesus, to fulfil for God’s glory and men’s salvation.
Today, any and every Tom, Dick and Harry, any and every Jill, Jennifer and Jane, think they know, and often loudly claim they know, what is good without turning to God for guidance … for what God is there for the great majority of 21st century Westerners other than the gods of health, wealth, success, pleasure and power??
Scripture tells us (Romans 5:12) that suffering and death came into our lives through sin:
Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned.
Jesus, as the Saviour sent by His all Holy, Wise, and Loving Father, came to destroy sin, the root of all human suffering, for all who would be willing to give their lives into His hands, to walk along His ways through their earthly life by the power of His most Holy Spirit so as to be made worthy children of God, able to live in eternal life as members of the family of Him Who is the Father of all.
The aim of ‘do-gooders’ (meant neither mockingly nor contemptuously) in our world today is to try to combat only suffering and death; and yet all of them know as professionals or experienced practitioners, that no ailment, disease, no suffering of any sort, let alone today’s previously unheard-of ailments, can be tackled without knowledge and deep understanding of their cause or causes.
Sadly, the great majority of the learned and leaders in today’s society are too proud to turn to God for their own healing from sin and consequently are incapable of truly relieving mankind’s ever-increasing -- both in threat and in number -- sufferings, anxieties, and tragedies.
The Canaanite woman turned to Jesus in her desperation; none in her little world were able to give her demonized daughter any help. She had heard of Jesus being described as Son of David, words that meant nothing to her but obviously meant much to those Jews she knew who spoke thus of Jesus. There was no other to whom she could turn, so, turn she did to Him Who ignored her, to Him Whose disciples tried to send her away, to get rid of her. Ultimately it was those very disciples themselves who turned to their Lord asking Him urgently:
Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.
Jesus had not changed since His earlier words, but the woman had changed: still humbled by her need, and still persistent in her love for her dear daughter, but somehow as she pushed closer towards Jesus and began to cry directly to Him Personally saying:
Lord, help me!
She found herself no longer troubled by those disciples and began to feel a certain measure of confidence and hope, for His words though uncompromising, somehow provoked her to hope, they did not crush her down into yet greater despair. He said:
It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs!
She remained humble (something beyond modern self-righteousness!!) but now strangely more confident, and somehow at peace, because she felt she now knew something about Him she was facing, a majestic Man indeed, but humble; yes, a humble Man familiar with the peasant’s table and the family’s dogs:
She said, “Please (notice, she is still humble!!), Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”
The self-righteous modern turners-away-from-Jesus-and-His-Church should hear that Canaanite woman with shame and tears, for she had heard the silent voice of the Father Who calls to Jesus, and having learned from Him was blessed to find Jesus turning to her and addressing her directly:
“Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.
Dear People of God, what can bring our western spiritual wilderness back to life with the refreshing waters of the Spirit of Jesus? Will it require the suffering, agony, and ‘despair’ of the Canaanite woman, or will the smouldering coals of former faith help some to remember that:
God has delivered all to disobedience that He might have mercy on all.