August 3, 2022
by Mike Cherney
Creighton University - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 409

Matthew 31:1-7
Psalm 31:10, 11-12AB, 13
Matthew 15:21-28
Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

A Matter of the Heart: Prayer as Relationship

The passage from Jeremiah describes God’s enduring love for his chosen people. The responsorial “psalm” continues with the subsequent verses from the same chapter of Jeremiah. The Gospel tells the story of a non-Jewish woman’s persistence in seeking a cure for her daughter.

These readings gave me some insight into where I would fit in salvation history. I must admit that I had always thought of myself as part of the chosen people. I was brought up in an environment that had me feeling that I was part of a great tradition. Today’s readings hit me as having God’s special relationship as much more Israel-centric than I was anticipating.

In the first reading, Israel is returning from a second period of exile, this time from their Assyrian conquerors. We read about joy and praise in this liberation. I always projected myself into that tradition. A tradition that had a special relationship with God. Today’s readings have me realizing that my ethnic history is not that of God’s chosen people (even though my spiritual history may be). I am not even anthropologically related to Israel’s captors as my roots come from somewhere much more north and west.

In the Gospel, Jesus makes clear His special relationship with the Jewish people. The Gospel’s setting (the region of Tyre and Sidon) was not an area with significant Jewish settlement. A Canaanite woman, a woman from a historical enemy of the Jews, calls out to Jesus. If I imagine myself in this setting, my mind drifts to an interaction that differs from my expectation. The woman addresses Him as Son of David; this seems to me to be clearly calling him out as a Jew. I get the sense that she is desperately reaching out to Jesus as someone who might be able to help her cure the dire situation with her daughter. I find myself particularly confused by His statement, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The woman seems only to make progress because of her persistence. His response (“It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”) comes across to me as a derogatory statement. Her humbling answer seems to earn Jesus’ respect. I had never really given much thought to the idea that Jesus was the Messiah to the Jews. I can only imagine that this Gospel text would make much more sense to the early listeners to this Gospel who came out of that Jewish tradition.

It is sobering to realize where I fit in the Biblical version of God’s historical relationship with mankind. I like to think of myself as special and called by name. I still am able to retain the feeling that I, as a Gentile with historical roots from a very distant tribe, am something much more than merely part of a second-round choice that occurs when Jesus is not embraced by large parts of his own faith community. I am left with a prayer that has me rethinking my place in the grand scheme of things.

Dear Lord,
I like to see stories from my own perspective.
Help me to open my mind and heart to see things from the perspective of others.
I also like to put myself at the center of the universe.
Not only am I not there, the recent images from space show what a small and distant planet we inhabit.
Allow me to see humbly from my position of insignificance.
Your personal gifts of grace and recognition take on so much more meaning in this context.

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.

Sharing this reflection with others by Email, on Facebook or Twitter:

Email this pageFacebookTwitter

Print Friendly

See all the Resources we offer on our Online Ministries Home Page

Daily Reflection Home

Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook