The Insults of the Lord

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Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time 

Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome

Matthew 15:21-28

Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” 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.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I ask you to increase my faith, nourish my hope, and strengthen my love. Pour your grace into my heart so that I may not feel entitled to any good thing apart from that which you grant to me. Lord, I approach you with humility, recognizing that everything I receive comes as an unmerited gift from you. 

Encountering Christ:

  1. Insults of the Lord?: It seems that the Lord was indifferent to the Canaanite woman’s plea. He seemingly ignored her. When the disciples wanted to send the woman away, Jesus responded, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” We know that Jesus would never inordinately throw out an insult. What could he mean by this strange way of encountering the Canaanite woman? All we know for sure is that she was going to be blessed, because we are always blessed when we encounter Jesus. He is a God of love. 
  2. Eliciting Faith: Rather than receive the words of the Lord as an insult, the Canaanite woman recognized her lowly position, knowing that she had no right to demand something of a Jew, according to the rules of their society. She also knew, however, that Jesus is “Lord, Son of David” and believed that he would extend his miraculous gifts to someone culturally beyond his reach. She believed that his love was greater than a race or a people. She was right. Jesus made it clear that he was not meant to minister to the Canaanites, yet, he granted an immediate cure and extolled the woman for her great faith. 
  3. A Model of Virtue: Who are we to say that only certain people can be saved? Who are we to put limits on the Lord’s grace? Who are we to refuse to minister to those outside our circle? If Jesus reached out, so can we. If a soul is open to the Lord’s grace, or moreover pleads for it, who are we to deny them from partaking of the good things of the Lord? Let us be apostles to the outcast, the weary, the hungry, the poor.

Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I ask you to provoke my faith as you did that of the Canaanite woman. Help me to respond with humility. 

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will do an act of unwarranted service or kindness to someone who needs it. 

For Further Reflection: Read and reflect on Moses’s example of humility in Numbers 12:3: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”

Written by Renee Pomarico.

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