Scripture: Lectionary 409. Aug.7. Numbers 13:1-2, 25- 14:1, 26-29, 34-35. Psalm 106: 6-7,13-14, 21-22. Matthew 15:21-28:
Just as they are on the verge of entering the land flowing with milk and honey (Canaan), the Israelites grumble and complain because of the fortifications and strength of those already occupying the land. All those mentioned are enemies of the Israelites. Moses again argues with God about his very difficult task. The generation complaining and Moses himself will not enter the promised land; this will be the honor given to Joshua and the younger generation of Israelites. The others will wander and die in the wilderness after forty years. Our Psalm is focused on this very event that is presented in the book of Numbers in today’s first reading.
The only connection of the Gospel with the first reading is that of a woman who is a Canaanite. She comes to Jesus to ask for the healing of her daughter who is inflicted with an illness caused by a demon. Jesus, of course, is concerned with his own people at this time and actually tries to turn her away by insulting her, calling her a “puppy” or a small dog. The whelps are not allowed to eat at the table of the householder. She, however, is not to be denied. Her quick whit and sincere response to Jesus trumps him on this occasion and he grants her the favor of healing her daughter. She remarked that the pups just wait for the crumbs that fall from the table and are satisfied with that. Her perseverance, humor, and patience win the grace of healing. Jesus realizes how strong her faith is and rewards her. How do we explain the insult Jesus throws out at her? It is the fact that he is totally human and on this occasion shows his limited humanity in the insensitive remark. But he is surprised at her reply and then through his divine power works the miracle she asks for. It is good to see that Jesus is very human in his emotional responses to situations and even angry at times and curses a fig tree. This is evidence of his humanity. The healings and exorcisms follow in his divinity. Sometimes when we are a bit naughty good comes from it. Too bad that we do not have the same ability to do something miraculous. We can however always apologize and ask forgiveness. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.