Speak Lord: Woman, you have great faith…

canaanite-woman

In today’s Gospel, Jesus seems unexpectedly brusque.

The disciples however seem rather typically self-serving!

Jesus left Gennesaret and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. Then out came a Canaanite woman from that district and started shouting, ‘Sir, Son of David, take pity on me. My daughter is tormented by a devil.’ But he answered her not a word. And his disciples went and pleaded with him. ‘Give her what she wants,’ they said ‘because she is shouting after us.’

He said in reply, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ But the woman had come up and was kneeling at his feet. ‘Lord,’ she said ‘help me.’ He replied, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.’ She retorted, ‘Ah yes, sir; but even house-dogs can eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, you have great faith. Let your wish be granted.’ And from that moment her daughter was well again.

Matthew 15:21-28

Born in Bethlehem he may have been, but here Jesus speaks with the bluntness of a Yorkshireman!

Scholars and others argue, about whether Jesus speak the way he did to check the woman, and put her in her place? Or to provoke her to the display of great faith that he always intended to praise? Who knows?

Either way, she rode the punches and serves us as an example of faith beyond what is common.

  • Where has a tough challenge served you well?

Image is of a Rembrandt ink drawing of Jesus and the Canaanite woman.

Speak Lord: who is he, and who am I?

Banias

The Gospel for this feast of Sts Peter and Paul relates Peter’s profession of faith in Jesus.

As you read the passage, note what strikes you, or what moves you, and bring that to God in prayer.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’

And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’

‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’

Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’

Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’

Matthew 16: 13-19

On the feast of St Peter we hear Peter’s confession of faith in Jesus followed by an extraordinary declaration by Jesus of confidence in Peter (albeit it is Jesus who will build the Church and not Peter!)

The editors of the Lectionary do not allow us to hear the passage following immediately on where Peter cannot accept other words of Jesus and ends up being described as Satan and a hindrance!!

  • What has been revealed to Peter by God? And why is it so important?
  • How do you understand the ministry of binding and loosing on earth, that is reciprocated in heaven?
  • Who do you say that Jesus is? And why?
  • Who are you? How and why?

Photograph is of Banias (Caesarea Philippi) in the Golan Heights, the traditional site of the Confession of Peter. It shows the remains of pagan temples, and the river Jordan. (c) Allen Morris, 2013.