"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset." Saint Francis De Sales

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Canaanite Woman

Sunday's Gospel is the story of the Canaanite woman. One that speaks of her faith and persistence. It contains a lesson that kept my attention throughout the Homily.

The cities of Tyre and Sidon are in the region of what is today Lebanon. At the time of Jesus it was an area of "Gentiles." So the reading starts at a location outside of Israel. My thought is did Jesus purposely travel here to teach the Apostles about faith? 

When the woman approaches and speaks to Jesus he does not answer her. This would be normal during this period as women had little or no authority. They were suppose to be confined to their homes and were considered inferior to men. Any woman seen in public without her father or husband were usually considered "unclean." But, my mind is still "spinning," there is a different reason for not answering. This is a lesson, Jesus is not being rude or ignoring her because she is a woman.

The disciples don't speak to her either and suggest to Jesus to tell her to go away. But He did not send her away, he told her that He was "only sent to the lost sheep of Israel." In other words, sorry, but Gentiles are not included in hearing the Word of the Lord. 

When Jesus does speak to the woman, He makes a statement. It is not the beginning of a conversation. Was this for the benefit of the disciples? I believe it was. He was giving them the opportunity to react based on all that they had learned. But they were not thinking nor grasping what was happening.

The woman takes advantage of not being dismissed and asks for help, not for her but for her daughter. The love of a mother so strong that she is willing to ignore her unsavory position. Another lesson and still no reaction from the disciples.

Jesus continues with another statement, perhaps testing her, but once again providing an opportunity for His disciples. He tells her, that it is not right to take Word of the Lord from the Israelites and give it to the Gentiles. 

But the woman's faith is undaunted and she will not go away. She replies saying that even if the Gentiles hear indirectly of the Word, it is enough.

Jesus replies, "Oh woman, great is your faith!" He knows she really understands what the Word of the Lord is. She is rewarded for her faith and her daughter is healed.

So, I wonder what the disciples are thinking. Have they missed the lesson? Do they realize what they have just witnessed?

There is a strong message that lights up the reading. As I'm sitting in the pew and listening to the Homily my mind is putting each lesson into place. I am listening and know that I need to write about this. The Deacon's Homily is different from my interpretation but it is still good. He is providing information for reflection and teaching us about seeing and faith. But I'm focused on the disciples. Why can't they hear and see?

Then I realize that I don't always hear and see. Sometimes we are so close to Jesus that we look pass Him. Maybe this reading is one I need to "bookmark" to remind myself to look and see Him, always.


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