Deacon on Duty – Love Stories
Our Gospel this weekend is a real doozy. On the surface, Jesus basically ignores a distraught woman, announces her unworthiness because of her nationality, and then compares her to a dog.
The seemingly unloving nature of this passage reminds me of the story of Abraham and Isaac from Genesis. Why did God instruct Abraham to take Isaac, his wife’s only son, a precious son born at a time when Sarah was thought to be too old to have a child, and offer him up as a sacrifice?
We know the two stories end well. Jesus does expel the demon from the daughter of the pleading woman because of her faith, a faith demonstrated by her persistence. God’s angel does stop Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. But the exchanges leading up to those conclusions may make us question: Is this Jesus, is this God truly all-knowing and all loving? We know the answer is Yes! So we wonder: why do these events occur?
God is all-knowing. He knows our thoughts; He knows our heart. God knew Abraham feared Him, so it was not necessary for Abraham to demonstrate that to God. But perhaps it was necessary for Abraham to demonstrate it to Abraham – and to the rest of us. Among many other messages, the whole story helps us begin to realize how greatly our God loves us, that together the Trinity is willing to enact the complete, tremendous sacrifice of the Father’s precious Son for the sake of expelling the power of sin and death.
And the Son does know that He was sent for the salvation of all – everyone, from everywhere. In fact, the events before and after today’s Gospel passage are all about Jesus preparing His disciples for their mission to go out to all nations. Our Gospel this Sunday is about more. The woman recognizes Jesus as Lord. She humbly approaches him with her request. Had the woman’s faith not been as strong as it was, she might have walked away when first shunned or certainly after being equated to a dog, but her faith girds her persistence. She knows who Jesus is, and her story reminds all of us that He is for each of us – no matter what.
So then: should we not all treat one another as being loved by the Lord? In this time of pandemic when tempers might be short and frustrations high, let us recall Jesus’ mission is for salvation of all because of his complete love for all. Let us continue to be persistent in mercy, hope, and faith, praying for each precious person we encounter, knowing that each one has a beautiful – even if perplexing – story.
Our Bible is the greatest love story ever written. We need to recall this truth while reading Scripture, especially when we come across passages that seem contrary on the surface. Want to keep digging deeper? Check out Fr. J.J.’s online Bible Study and/or any of the others described on page 4 of this weekend’s bulletin.
In the peace of Christ,