Jesus makes one of the citizens and the strangers. In him, there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female.
Needs do not know borders, of nation or religion. That is why both Jews and strangers have needs. So, it does not surprise that a Canaanite is in distress due to what ails her daughter.
What surprises is that the Canaanite mother asks a Jew for help. For Jews would rather not deal with Canaanites, foreigners, or strangers that they are, and so, foes (Ps 144, 7. 11). And this comes out in the way the disciples react. They ask Jesus to send her away, just as they wanted him to do with the crowds (Mt 14, 15).
Is it for the same reason that Jesus does not say a word in answer to her? Or does he take his time to think, so that the herd instinct does not take over? And, then, when he gives an answer, what prompts it is the disciples more than the woman. So, it seems that he does not want to deal with her either. Or could it not be that he is not sure whether to say “yes” or “no” to her? It may be that he now doubts that he is sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.
Be it as it may, he can no longer avoid to talk to her. For suddenly, she draws near and kneels before him. It sounds like he says “no.” Though snide, it is not, however, a resounding but a probing “no.” He does not close the door on her.
Jesus belongs to strangers.
In the end, Jesus gets to know her great and humble faith. It is as great and humble as that of a centurion (Mt 8, 5-13). And so, the one whom God has sent grows even more in wisdom, for he gets to grasp his mission more fully. Without doubt, those in need can teach and evangelize, us, if we let them (John Freund; Michael Carroll).
The Messiah, yes, is for all peoples. For God has mercy on all and brings to his holy mountain foreigners and strangers who serve him. There are strangers no more, since we are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3, 28).
Lord Jesus, we are strangers no more but members of your household (Eph 2, 19). And you make us sit at your table. Give us the religion of the humble who acknowledge their needs and trust wholly in you (SV.EN XI:190; SV.EN XII:142).
16 August 2020
20th Sunday in O.T. (A)
Is 56, 1. 6-7; Rom 11, 13-15. 29-32; Mt 15, 21-28