Wednesday, the 18th week of Ordinary Time
Mass at noon: Tuesday - Friday
Saturday at 5:00 - Sunday at 9:00 and 11:15am
When the people gather for prayer, all are welcome.
Saint of the day - Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
Readings for today’s Mass
His first intrusion was from a non-Jewish woman who came asking for the same thing everybody wanted from Jesus, compassion and wholeness. “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon." His first response was to ignore her. Hear his response when she pressed for attention: He said in reply, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But the woman came and did him homage, saying, "Lord, help me." He said in reply, "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." Dang! Is that cold and downright rude? Nasty! After all, she only wanted what he so freely gave to everyone else.
At issue here, is a matter of clashing cultures. Jesus was a Jew and only saw his role within the Jewish community, the “children.” This woman was a Canaanite, an outsider who didn’t belong, one of the dogs.
I like to contrast this text with another encounter between Jesus and a woman outsider. She was the Samaritan woman Jesus found one day at a public well. From a cultural perspective, it would have been appropriate for Jesus, upon seeing her as an outsider, to keep his distance and wait for her to leave the well before coming to refresh himself. But he violates the social mores by coming to the well, and of all things, initiating a conversation.
What i notice in these two stories is a change in Jesus’ understanding of himself. He moves from an exclusive ministry only to Israel to an inclusive understanding of his outreach to any/everyone.
As i watch the news, too often i see Christians responding to others, even to other Christians, as if they were members of the “dog” society. We want to draw artificial boundaries and built walls that exclude instead of the Christian response of hospitality. Maybe this change in Jesus happened in part because he began to see himself as an outsider. (Remember how family and friends thought he’d lost his mind. Mk 3:21) Maybe he had firsthand experience of exclusion and didn’t like it either. I wonder if that’s what opened his eyes. Whatever it was, i like the change.
How about you? Where do you draw lines?