How have I lived out last week’s Gospel message? … What was tough? … What was rewarding?
Come to meet the God who embraces the outsider. Come to pray to the God who hears the cry of the voiceless. Come to listen to the God who calls us to change. Come to worship the God who brings life and healing to all. We praise you that in your strength those who challenge exclusion find the courage to speak up for justice. We praise you that in faith in you all our barriers are broken down and all are made welcome.
Jesus ignored her. The disciples came and complained, “Now she’s bothering us. Would you please take care of her? She’s driving us crazy”. Jesus refused, telling them, “I’ve got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of Israel”. Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. “Master, help me. Jesus gave in. “Oh woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!” Right then her daughter became well.
The Canaanite woman begs for Jesus’ help. He refuses at first, but she is very persistent. Jesus remarks on how great her faith is, and he does help her. In Jesus’ time, the Canaanite woman would have been an outcast. Reflect on people or groups that you know are ignored or excluded. Who are they at school? at home? in the community and world? Pray that you will start to see them and be more compassionate. This week, resolve to do something for at least one person or group who is typically brushed aside.
The woman in this week’s Gospel passage was confronting an injustice she saw. Her daughter was in need of healing, but Jesus had told her that he was only sent by God to help the Jews. She spoke up and challenged what she saw as injustice, the cultural divisions that kept her from freely approaching Jesus. Jesus used this moment to show the disciples that anyone can call out to God for grace and mercy and God will answer.
We are faced with different types of injustice every day. Some of them might affect us directly, such as an unfair situation at school. Other injustices affect those we interact with but may not knew well enough to know that there is a problem. These people could be your classmates or teammates. Still more injustices affect the world and the many people that inhabit it. You only need to turn on the television or scroll through a newsfeed to see stories of war, poverty, and other tragedies. In response to these things, you may hear of people who become involved in social justice activities. Social justice begins by looking at the systems that govern our communities, towns, states, and nation to see if they are just. If they are not found to be just, then we engage in the work of confronting the root causes in systems that promote injustice.
Find out more about social justice and how we are called to participate in the work of justice by learning about the work of different Catholic social justice agencies. Check out the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference: Office for Social Justice www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au and see how you can engage and become proactive.
Stubborn Like Jesus?
“No way, I’m not going. That’s not me”. I’ve heard this often from young people I’ve invited to retreats or community service trips. But a funny thing almost always happens to the ones who eventually give in. They go, come back thankful, and want to help with future trips.
We humans can be stubborn. We can think we know ourselves so well. We sometimes need people to pester us until we open our minds and reconsider our values or goals. We’re just like Jesus in this week’s Gospel.
I love this story. Jesus seems stubborn and closed-minded, although there may be more going on in the story than we know about. He seems entirely focused on his mission to the Jews – until the Canaanite woman urges him to reconsider. Some scripture scholars argue that this story really does reflect how Jesus learned about his mission from others who challenged him.
Jesus was fully human. Just like us, he had to learn about himself and his talents. It also took him time to understand God’s role for him. He didn’t know all of this from birth.
Here’s the challenge for us. If Jesus needed other people to help him learn more about himself, don’t we? Think about that this coming week. When someone disagrees with you, don’t be stubborn. Listen. Don’t be defensive when someone challenges you. Look within. Don’t turn down the opportunity to try new retreats, youth groups, or community service experiences. Open your mind and go.
Quite often, God calls us to be people we’re called to be – and leads us to the fulfilling life planned for us – through others who disagree, challenge, or invite us. Keep your eyes and ears open this week. A ‘Canaanite woman’ just might come across your path.
If a word or phrase from the Gospel grabs your heart, sit quietly for a moment, repeating it to yourself and asking God to show you how it applies to your life. Reflect and possibly journal on the following questions:
LIFT ME UP (John Burland) (from Arise collection)
Words & Music © 2020, John Burland.
Ovation Music Services. All rights reserved. Used with permission.