The Readings today show how a person’s race is not a detriment to receiving God’s grace. God tells us through Isaiah, he will bring to his holy mountain, foreigners who join and minister to him, who love the name of the Lord and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast his covenant. The criteria for receiving God’s favor is not physical descent, but our relationship with him: whether we acknowledge him as Lord.
The Gospel shows how Jesus gave the Canaanite woman her request. She first shouted have mercy on me Lord, Son of David, my daughter is tormented by a demon. Jesus did not answer. Then the disciples came to Jesus and urged him to give what she asks so she can leave them in peace. In response, Jesus said I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The woman, instead of being discouraged, said Lord, help me. The first time she shouted, she only stated her situation. Now, she asks Jesus to help her. This is now a personal request for herself, rather than for her daughter. In response, Jesus said it is not fair to take the children’s food and give it to dogs. She responded, yes Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.
Many may say Jesus was testing to see how much faith this woman has. Yet, this is not the case. Jesus choose to ignore her to teach her and his disciples about God’s grace. For one, Jesus is teaching the woman, he is not just the Son of David even if she called him Lord. She was referring to Jesus as a human king. But he is not just the Son of David. He is the Son of God. The second and third time she speaks to Jesus, she admits he is Lord. Jesus is revealing to her who he is.
When Jesus said I was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Jesus was teaching the mercy of God to his disciples. While the disciples believe the Messiah is sent to the lost sheep and salvation comes from the Jews, salvation is open to other nations as Paul said in the second reading.
One last lesson from the Canaanite woman, is her trust in God. She knows God will not give her what is evil. She knows God will give what is sufficient for her. She was willing to take the crumbs from the master’s table because she knows whatever God gives, even if it is crumbs, is good and sufficient for her needs. This is the trust Jesus wants us to learn from her. She knows what St Paul says in the Second Reading: the gifts and call of God are irrevocable. When God gives, he gives permanently, in abundance and for our good.
The only thing that prevents us from receiving God’s blessings is our refusal to come to him. But when we come to him, repent of our sins and trust his goodness, we will enjoy the blessings of God. It does not matter what our past is. It does not matter what we have done. What matters is us, coming to Jesus, and acknowledging our nothingness before him, recognizing he is God and Lord, and it is by his mercy we receive good things.
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you into my life. But I still come to you, not because of the things I have done, but because of your mercy. I am not worthy to receive the good things you have planned for met, yet, this is what you want for me. Have mercy on me Lord, I trust you.