Sunday Message

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Sunday Message 20th August 2017

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seeing your life through the lens of the gospels – Matthew 15:21-28
1. Having met with rejection from the Pharisees Jesus goes to Gentile territory and encounters faith in an unexpected place, in the Canaanite woman. His mission had previously been to his own people. This adds a new dimension to his mission. Have you had occasions when a chance encounter set your life off in a new direction?
2. The initial reaction of Jesus to the woman was one of rejection but her persistence won a response from him. When have you found that persistence was needed to gain what you sought? What did that experience teach you?
3. In our days, welcoming the stranger is a challenge. We are more comfortable with our own. What difference has it made when you were able to offer a friendly welcoming face to a stranger?
4. Who are the ‘Canaanite women’ who call out for attention today – people in Church or State whose needs are not being attended to? 
– John Byrne OSA

Musings
She was a lady like many – the woman of the Gospel today. She would fight for her child. So she took on Jesus, the best known religious figure around. Like someone taking on the Taoiseach over a medical card for a chronically ill child, and not letting him off the hook.
Jesus was testing her. He saw faith, but he wanted everyone else to see it. So he told her she didn’t fit into the local religious sphere because she was a foreigner, an asylum seeker or a refugee. Or a lone mother who had a bad name. She knew she fitted into the heart of Jesus simply because she was the mother of a sick child. Jesus cured her child and praised her faith.
She is another of the unnamed ones of the Gospel. Like the woman of Samaria, the rich young man, the thief on Calvary – she is herself, and she is all of us. She is everyone, man and woman, of faith.
Faith in a surprising God who in Jesus his Son never says no to goodness. Faith that keeps us energetic and alive, not tired, in soul as well as body.
Lord, I believe, strengthen my faith.  – Donal Neary SJ

Fear knocked on the door, faith answered. There was no one there. 
– Dr Martin Luther King Jnr

The Deep End
We might wonder why Jesus is so rude and dismissive to the woman in today’s Gospel who comes and asks for his help. Does he really call the woman ‘a dog’?! Many explanations have been given for Jesus’ words with some suggesting that it was an attempt at a first century joke, that he was just ‘teasing’ (he didn’t really mean it!) or that it was an opportunity to test the woman’s faith. The disciples also clearly want her sent away.
What happens just before this incident is important. Jesus has just left Gennesaret where the Pharisees have continued to be extremely hostile towards him. Jesus’ mission to ‘the lost sheep of the House of Israel’ is not going so well. So, Jesus ‘leaves that place’ and goes somewhere that is unfamiliar. What happens in this unfamiliar place is certainly life giving for the woman and for Jesus also. It might be considered a place of new beginnings as Jesus’ mission is opened up to those who would have been considered ‘unworthy’, such as a woman who is also a foreigner. The food rejected by the religious leaders of the time is ending up in unexpected places. It is here that the kingdom grows.
You have to admire the woman’s persistence. She is a reminder of people we encounter who have great faith and make a deep impression on us.
We might ask ourselves today: when have experiences of rejection in our own lives led to new possibilities? Where are the unfamiliar places that we must go in order to grow, to embrace new life and new experiences? 
– Jane Mellett, Pastoral Worker, Dublin Diocese

(from Intercom)

 

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