Scripture Readings: Isaiah 56: 1-7; Romans 11: 13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15: 21-28
As with many of the Scriptures, they can be difficult to understand at times, and today’s Gospel may well be one of them.
One could easily ask: How could Jesus call the woman of the Gospel a dog? The more accurate translation would be a Puppy.
Yet, there are many levels of understanding that come forth from this Gospel Reading today.
For instance, God’s cares just as much about outsiders (like this Canannite woman) as the law-abiding faithful insider. Something that deeply troubled the faithful insider of the day, including Jesus’s disciples. The Gospel is about an “expanding circle of grace.”
A friend of mine, when we play a golf match, if he feels the putt to be made is “not a gimmie” as we say in golf, he calls that: “Just outside the circle of friendship.”
For God, no one is ever to be abandoned, no one is ever to be told (directly or indirectly) they are “outside the circle of friendship,” or outside the “circle of God’s friendship.”
Another level of understanding of the Gospel today is that even Jesus had his consciousness of the scope of his mission and ministry stretched beyond the people of Israel.
So what’s it mean for us today? I would suggest we are being challenged every day to love others as God loves them.
We are being challenged to abandon the temptation to limit the circle of people who are members of the Body of Christ; who are members of our faith and faith community. Put another way: who belongs and who does not. For in the end Jesus lived, died and rose for everyone, not just you and me, or some… everyone.
We pray today that we will continue to adapt to the circumstances and challenges of today’s world as we live our faith and as others live lives that lead them to Jesus and to His Church.
We pray today that we will continue to work at including others in our circle of faith, of life and of love each day in our attitudes, words and actions.