Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Gospel in a Nutshell - Say what Jesus?!?



Mt 15:21-28

At that time, Jesus 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 Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus' 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 Jesus 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 the woman's daughter was healed from that hour.
 
Say what!?!?
 
That is precisely what I thought when I first read this.
 
Was this really Jesus being so neglectful, so harsh and even racist to the poor Canaanite woman?
 
I really struggled hard to understand what the gospel meant today.  Sure, I can see the end picture where she persisted in faith and was rewarded at the end...but did it have to be so...brutal?
 
I prayed that the priest today would have some insight on the reading for me today....and thankfully his homily today was wonderful!
 
He started the homily telling us about when he was young he wanted an aquarium.  He asked his parents for one and they said "no".  He continued to ask them every day and they always said no.  When Christmas came a few months later, he cut out pictures of fish and hid them all over their house...under his parents' pillows, under their plates etc. When Christmas came...no fish.  His parents told him they were not going to get him an aquarium, and explained that they would end up having to care for it and that was not something they wanted to do.  His birthday was 6 months later, so he continued to ask them for an aquarium.  Six months later on his birthday....no aquarium.
 
Discouraged and still wanting the aquarium really badly he turned to his priest and told him that he has been asking for this aquarium for some time now and he was nowhere closer to getting it than the first day he asked.  The priest (probably trying hard not to laugh at this poor boy) told him to pray for the aquarium and that surely he would get one....one day.
 
Christmas came around again and under the tree...no aquarium.  His parents told him again, they were not going to get him an aquarium.  Later that day, his older sister came over from her work and brought him a present...a brand new aquarium!!
 
His parents had kept true to their word and had not bought an aquarium...but he still got one (eventually) from someone he wasn't even asking anything from!

Now the priest today explained that the gospel reading was just like this (although the Canaanite woman was asking Jesus for something more precious than a fish, she asked for her daughter's health).  Whether it was the fish or an ill daughter, Jesus DID hear the prayers.  He just knew when and how they were to be answered.

Sometimes we get so discouraged because the prayers we send up to heaven are often not answered immediately in the way we want.  How can we not take it personally? How can we not assume that Jesus is not listening to us?  Or worse, doesn't want to help us?
 
I was watching a Duggar Family episode and Jim Bob said that "God's will is what we would choose if we knew all the facts".  Today's gospel reminds us of this.  God knows how to answer our prayers, God knows when to answer our prayers.  Our job is to stay faithful and keep the communication open with Him.  Just like Jesus was harsh to the Canaanite woman, so is the world harsh to us sometimes...and just like she persevered, we must too.


2 comments:

  1. Nicole,

    Thank you SO much for this post!

    I, too, was struck today during the Gospel reading and didn't know quite what to make of it. Your retelling of your priest's homily really helped me. Our sermon today was replaced by a priest asking for donations for the missions in India. While certainly a worthwhile cause, I wish the appeak would have been made after Communion, so everyone in the Church who was conflicted like us, would have heard a good explanation.

    It is so difficult sometimes to understand/accept God's "timing" in the answering of prayer, and I pray often for the grace to persevere!

    God bless you!
    Lisa
    P.S. I enjoy watching the Duggars, as well! :-)

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  2. Thank you so much Lisa! So glad that you enjoyed it! You always have such kind words!
    ~nicole

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