Sometimes we come across a Gospel reading, when initially we hear it, we don’t know how to react! This Sunday’s reading of Jesus initially rejecting the Canaanite woman is hopefully one of them. We see Jesus’s treatment and response harsh and difficult to comprehend. Isn’t our faith in Jesus Christ based on Jesus willing to die for EVERYONE? Why does Jesus ignore and then compare the Canaanite people to dogs?
I’m sure there are various ways to approach this Gospel. One approach is to ask the question, “could Jesus be testing the woman’s perseverance even in the midst of persecution, something the Apostles would eventually have to learn?” I, however, would like to approach the Gospel with this principle preposition and our own brokeness: When God’s action doesn’t match up with our will, we always perceive God’s actions as harsh and questionable.
Have you ever desired God to act or respond to a problem in your life? And what happened when your prayers were not answered in the ways you wanted them too? Did you throw a fit? (As I have done many times). Did you feel like God didn’t have a plan for you, let alone love you?
Yet, what is clear in the Scriptures is that God loves all of us and desires to bring salvation, not only to the Israelites, but to all people (cf. 1 Tim 2:4). Where we fail in our perception of God's plan, however, is God doesn’t always act the way we want Him too. We don’t see God’s greater picture of salvation. Jesus Christ came to fulfill the covenants (promises) given to the Israelites first, and then to the whole world. Hence Christ said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24) Only to say after his death and resurrection, “Go, therefore and make disciples of ALL NATIONS, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:16-20). God’s plan from the very beginning was to bring all nations, including the Canaanite woman into His Body, into His Church. Yet, in its proper time and way!
Sometimes when God doesn’t act or respond the way we want Him too, we feel that God is harsh and unresponsive. But what we need to realize is that the Lord’s love and plan is greater than our own. He desires the good and salvation of all people, including you and me! Let’s, yes, learn from the Canaanite woman in perseverance, but more importantly trust in the Lord when He doesn’t respond in the way we want Him too!