Choosing

“You will be my people and I will be your God” Those are the words of a covenant, an oath, forever binding God and the descendants of Abraham, binding all who would believe. It is a covenant renewed some 400 years later under the leadership of Moses. It is the covenant that prophet Isaiah speaks about in the first reading – only it’s now another 700 years passed. For more than 1,000 years the people of Israel had understood that they, and they alone, were qahal Yahweh, the people of God. Understood that they, and they alone, were the inheritors of salvation and God’s justice. They were the people of the divine manifest destiny, privileged, and the chosen people. Continue reading

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The Canaanite Woman: the reply

CannaniteHeadlinesHow are we to Understand Jesus’ Response? The disciples’ request, Send her away for she keeps calling out after us need not be understood as disapproval of her request, but simply a desire for peace and quiet (cf. 19:13?). In fact, if Jesus would just grant the petition, they all can rest. Many scholars hold this content makes Jesus’ emphatic objection (v.24) more cogent. But rather than take the path of least resistance, there is a principle to be highlighted. The principle is the same as that of 10:5–6, of a mission  restricted to Israel (during Jesus’ earthly ministry): “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The statement here is Jesus’ explanation to the disciples of his unexpectedly unwelcoming response to a woman in need; she herself need not have heard it, as it is only in v.25 that she approaches Jesus closely. Continue reading

The Others: crossing over

Rahib_CanaaniteWomanA Framework to Understand Jesus’ Response. It is believed that the etymology of “Hebrew” comes from the Semitic root ‘apiru, which refers to those who cross over. It is an apt description when one considers the journeys of Abraham and Sarah, the travels of Jacob/Israel and his 12 sons, and the Exodus of the Jews to Israel – a narrative history of people who were “other” and yet willing to “cross over” because of the call of God. And paradoxically, the disciples are not willing to “cross over” to console this woman who is “other.” Continue reading

The Others: why would they?

canaanitewoman.iconCommentary. At its core this narrative remains a miracle-story – And her daughter was healed from that hour. But as the encounter is placed immediately after a discussion of purity in both Matthew and Mark, Jesus’ encounter with this Gentile woman also brings out the implications that the Gentiles will no longer be separated from Israel (cf. Acts 10:15, 28; 11:9–18). Continue reading

The Others: a context

canaanite-womanMatthew 15:21-28 21 Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 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.” 23 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.” 24 He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” 28 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.

Between the 19th and 20th Sundays in Year A, Mt 15:1-21 are passed over. In order to provide a context let us briefly describe the events which leads us to Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman. Continue reading

Crossing Over

crossing-the-divideSeptember 1965 should have been a great year. I was a rising 8th grader at St James school in Orlando – you know, about to become king of the school. That’s when geography dealt a cruel blow. Both my older sisters were going to the Bishop Moore HS – which was the opposite direction from St James. In a moment, my fate was sealed. I had to transfer to St. Charles which shared a campus with the HS. I was exiled from all my friends to attend a school filled with kids who thought they were too cool, who wore all the new clothes, who bought all the right albums, who won all the school championships. Continue reading

The Canaanite Woman: the reply

CannaniteHeadlinesHow are we to Understand Jesus’ Response? The disciples’ request, Send her away for she keeps calling out after us need not be understood as disapproval of her request, but simply a desire for peace and quiet (cf. 19:13?). In fact, if Jesus would just grant the petition, they all can rest. Many scholars hold this content makes Jesus’ emphatic objection (v.24) more cogent. But rather than take the path of least resistance, there is a principle to be highlighted. The principle is the same as that of 10:5–6, of a mission  restricted to Israel (during Jesus’ earthly ministry): “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The statement here is Jesus’ explanation to the disciples of his unexpectedly unwelcoming response to a woman in need; she herself need not have heard it, as it is only in v.25 that she approaches Jesus closely. Continue reading

The Canaanite Woman: crossing over

Rahib_CanaaniteWomanA Framework to Understand the Response. It is believed that the etymology of “Hebrew” comes from the Semitic root ‘apiru, which refers to those who cross over. It is an apt description when one considers the journeys of Abraham and Sarah, the travels of Jacob/Israel and his 12 sons, and the Exodus of the Jews to Israel – a narrative history of people who were “other” and yet willing to “cross over” because of the call of God. And paradoxically, the disciples are not willing to “cross over” to console this woman who is “other.” Continue reading

The Canaanite Woman: why would she?

canaanitewoman.iconCommentary. At its core this narrative remains a miracle-story – And her daughter was healed from that hour. But as the encounter is placed immediately after a discussion of purity in both Matthew and Mark, Jesus’ encounter with this Gentile woman also brings out the implications that the Gentiles will no longer be separated from Israel (cf. Acts 10:15, 28; 11:9–18). Continue reading

The Canaanite Woman: a thought

canaanite-woman2aA Thought or Two. The Pharisees are easily dismissed, after all, they are the antagonist in the narratives. A more optimistic reading of the context is that the Pharisees are the ones who have lost the spirit, heart, and compassion of the Law. There is nothing wrong with wanting holiness to be a goal and desire of all the people. But the assumption that the rules and traditions of the Levites are the path of holiness for the people errs in that it assumes the Levites exist in a hierarchy that places them closer to God. In addition, when one forgets the bases of the traditions and whether they are “t” traditions or “T” traditions, then only problems lay ahead. Continue reading