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Being Inclusive

There is a real sense of inclusiveness in our Gospel reading today taken from Matthew 15:21-28. Jesus responds to a woman not of the Jewish faith and heals her daughter.

That inclusiveness extends to each one of us. We can stand in confidence because in Christ we belong and have a place. We are included. His grace and the gift of salvation crosses boundaries even the hardness of our hearts. All peoples and cultures are valued in God’s eyes.

For whatever reason, sometimes we may feel excluded and we will certainly know people who feel like that, judged, and unwelcome. Today Jesus is saying I see you and I hear you. Speak up and speak out. Find your voice. Be real with him. As his followers, he wants us to be aware of those voices around us and to be people who include rather than exclude.

I love the way the Canaanite Woman because of her desperate need does not let Jesus off the hook. With respect, she will not be silenced. Don’t you admire people who speak from a place of conviction and absolute honesty and need? They are genuine and real. Our heart goes out to them.

I get that sense from some women featured in the media recently struggling to make ends meet because of inadequate housing, joblessness, and little money for food to provide for their children. They are prepared to stand up and cry out for help. They are humble and courageous.

The woman in our Gospel persists and I think it is the only recorded incident in the Gospel where Jesus changes his mind. He allows this foreign woman to influence his thinking and direction and he gives to her what she asks. Are we prepared to listen and to be open to other people who challenge our way of thinking? At least to have a genuine dialogue where understanding and positive change can occur. Jesus was prepared to do this.

The woman’s daughter is made well because he witnesses in her, her incredible faith and he is moved with compassion. This woman recognizes who he is. Many of his own people did not. The barrier between Jews and Gentiles comes crashing down in this spirited encounter.

The great commission to go out to the whole world baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit which comes at the end of Matthew’s Gospel is anticipated here. The Good News of Christ is available and open to all. May we live that reality in our words and actions.

Listen to Find our Voice’ from ‘Like a Beautiful Day’

And a woman was a stranger

Her daughter was possessed

She begged Jesus to heal her

The Saviour was impressed

Despite her cultural difference

He listened to her need

He told her, Go home happy

Your daughter has been freed

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