The moral Christian—Sunday of the Canaanite Woman

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen.

What does the life of a Christian look like, my brothers and sisters?  How do we behave?  And we can look at these questions on a moral level: we can do this in terms of negatives, do not kill, do not steal, or positives, feed the poor and so on.  And these are all true.  And when someone comes who does not fit these criteria, these rules, we may try to keep them away from the purity of the Church.

The Pharisees, too, knew what it was to be a child of God, and in their desire for the purity of the Law of Moses all else was expendable.  The scribes and Pharisees followed Christ even from Jerusalem to Galilee, so Christ withdrew to the northwest, to the region of Tyre and Sidon, to teach his disciples: he teaches them through the witness of a certain Canaanite woman.

She was not of the House of Israel, was from beyond Judah.  She was part of the nations—not like us in any respect: yet what she lacked in parentage and genealogy she made up with in Faith: it is not our parents who make us sons and daughters of Abraham but our Faith.  And she is willing to make a scene, she is willing to do anything to get close to the Lord.  And our instincts are to get her away, to remove her from the situation, to get her out: but the Lord listens.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, how do we respond to others outside the Church?  Do we see them as would the Pharisees—outside the Church and outside grace—and do we see them as unworthy because they do not keep the “rules” we so easily impose on others but our lives show we reject the same rules ourselves?  Or do we meet them, with Christ, even as they are?  Is the Gospel only for those like us or for everyone without distinction?  Do our actions align us with Christ or with the Pharisees?  Let us today, here and now, hold fast to the Truth of the Gospel—that Christ’s victory over death, sin and idolatry through his Resurrection is for everyone, for all the peoples of our region, of our country and of our world and that we are here to serve them, to preach his Resurrection and invite them into the community of believers, the Church of the living God.

To our crucified and risen Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, be all glory, honour and might, together with his unoriginate Father and the All-holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit.  Amen.

Brethren, you are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God.
— 2 Corinthians 6:16–18, 7:1

At that time, Jesus went to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
— Matthew 15:21–28