Wednesday, August 8, 2018

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

There is some good in the worst of us, and some evil in the best of us. -  Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968: was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1954 until his death in 1968.

Gospel Text: (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 he did not say a word in answer to her.
His 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 him 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 her daughter was healed from that hour.

When the Israelites entered the Promised Land after the Exodus, they met up with the Canaanites. The Israelites considered them to be wicked and godless, a race of people that they should exterminate. This outlook persisted until the time of Jesus. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus explains that this outlook cannot be held by His followers.

The woman in the Gospel passage is a Canaanite. She had enough faith in Jesus to ask Him to release her daughter from a demon. But then Jesus says a shocking thing to the woman: “It is not right to take the food of the sons and daughters and throw it to the dogs.” These words do not represent Jesus’ own thoughts, but we see—because of the response that Jesus draws out of the woman, and because of Jesus’ action in reply—the lesson that Jesus has for His followers.

In our culture today, we can apply Jesus’ teaching to the way that many today are tempted to treat those from areas where terrorists dwell. Jesus says to us, “Love is not exclusively for those who are dear to us.” Jesus teaches that we must love those we may consider enemies, and pray for those who persecute us.

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