He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’” vss. 26-27Matthew 15:25-28
Most of the time in the gospels we read that Jesus outsmarted his adversaries and left them speechless. None of his opponents could stand up against his clever use of logic and scripture. But in his encounter with the Canaanite woman he was clearly outmaneuvered. He begins with an insult, clearly implying that the Canaanites were in the same category as dogs. But her clever, almost humorous comeback, impresses him. He recognizes her great faith and the woman’s daughter is instantly healed. It was instances like this that began the gradual shift in the direction of Jesus’ mission, and ultimately not only outsiders, but women, came to play an important role in the life of the Christian community. It’s a pattern that has continued to evolve through the centuries and we’re finally at a stage when we’re more likely to drop the labels and simply accept one another as gifted, much loved children of God. It’s still not easy though, and we regularly read of the old prejudices rearing their ugly heads in the church. In some congregations debates about sexuality and gender continue to rage. It’s just not easy to give people a place at the table when they’ve been considered outsiders for generations. Jesus figured it out – maybe someday his followers can too.
Thought for the Day: Which are the hardest prejudices to overcome?