Gospel Matthew 15:21-28
“‘Woman, you have great faith.”
The reading before us a challenging one. The most common portrayal of Jesus in our day is that of an affable do-gooder, the buddy-Christ, the kind of Jesus that would never offend and never upset anyone. But in this story we have an image of him seemingly reluctant to give a helping hand – and only by virtue of the annoying persistence of this woman does Jesus relent and work the miracle of healing her daughter.
One might get the impression from reading this that Jesus was a little unfeeling here, but perhaps there is a deeper lesson. While we acknowledge as a principle of the faith that Jesus came to save all men and women, we should also note the particularity of the mode in which God operates throughout history. He singles out a person, Abraham, and makes of his descendants a nation who are especially chosen and blessed. God acts in times and places that are very specific, and ultimately God takes on human flesh in the person of Jesus, a man of Hebrew origin in first century Palestine. This is referred to as the ‘scandal of particularity’, and often this fact leaves people wondering ‘why then?’, and ‘why there?’, and ‘why not here and now?’
While we might be tempted to feel hard done by in our circumstances, feeling that if I was there I’d have no trouble believing, we can instead look upon the reality of the Incarnation in a particular time and place as being a gift, a gift which elicits our faith. Like the woman in today’s Gospel, we should persevere, both in our prayer, and in our hope that God does want to show us his love.
This opportunity for faith is a radical freedom.
Point to Ponder
Faith is recognizing that God made flesh is present in the world, in the history of the world.
Luigi Giussani, Is It Possible to Live This Way? (page 54)