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A House for All

The readings for this Sunday at Mass hold the theme of inclusivity. This is beautifully expressed in Isaiah: “for my house will be a house of prayer for all peoples.”  

Yet, pause for a moment to ponder the treatment Jesus shows to the Canaanite woman in Matthew’s Gospel. Imagine you are there as she calls to Jesus for help, but he walks on. Jesus then implies that she is a “house dog”! Are you surprised by his words? Shocked? Do you feel that Jesus is being uncharacteristically harsh? Are you with the disciples as they implore him to help her? 

I think this reaction is exactly what he intended to provoke: a sense of injustice and our collective cry of ‘hang on a minute, this isn’t fair’.  

Throughout the conversation with the Canaanite woman, Jesus draws out our compassion for the other, those who are different to ourselves, or who stand on the other side of a racial or cultural divide. I believe this is clearly demonstrated by the pleas of his disciples.

This story makes me want to include others, as the woman’s faith is as strong as my own, if not considerably stronger. She, and her daughter, deserve a relationship with our Lord. She needs him as much as we do. More so, as she is desperate to help her child and, thanks to the strength of her faith, continues to ask Jesus for help. 

Jesus of Nazareth was compassionate to the poor, the shunned, the marginalised, and the broken members of society. He accepted the tax collectors and the sinners, those from different cultures, or people with lifestyles or circumstances that made them feel different and alone.  

We are to do the same.  

Today's Readings: Isaiah 56:1, 6-7     Psalm 66     Romans 11:13-15, 29-32     Matthew 15: 21-28

Source: Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

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