19 August 2017

We don't teach the Lord

NB. This Sunday's Gospel reading tempts Catholic preachers into Christological error. You may hear your pastor/deacon say that the Canaanite woman teaches Jesus a lesson about inclusivity. This is the standard historical-critical interpretation from 1983. And it is wrong. Thus, I'm excerpting a portion of a Roman homily from 2008 to provide a less erroneous view:

We need to dispense immediately with the ridiculous claim that this story is about a “marginalized woman of color teaching Jesus a lesson about radical inclusivity.” Creatures teach the Creator nothing. Jesus and the woman, however, do manage to teach the disciples that access to the Lord’s table is about trusting in the Living Word and not about one’s lineage, nationality, or relative status according to the Law. The Canaanite woman is made a child of God by her faith! In her humility, she asks for help and then testifies that any help she receives will be a gift and not an entitlement. Jesus rewards her faith by giving her her greatest desire: “…the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.”

We can confess up front that more often than not we are the disciples in this story. We’re the ones wanting to protect Jesus from harm, to prevent others from defiling him or abusing his name. We will set ourselves outside the tent as guards against the unworthy, as gatekeepers against the annoying and the merely curious. With stout arms crossed across our proud chests we are vigilant against the unclean dogs sniffing around for hand-outs; those who have not earned an audience by showing loyalty; those who would waste the Lord’s time with trivialities; obviously, as his only loyal disciples, we are best selected as his secretaries, his guards, his watchers. Occasionally, we may even have to protect him from himself. Imagine if he wanted to do something stupid like sacrifice his life in order to save everyone! Everyone! Not just the deserving, the observant, the righteous, and the clean, but just anyone who might accept his invitation to join his eternal table. Oy! What a mess. Sometimes we might have to protect Jesus from Jesus. Sad but true.
The entire homily is here: Access Denied.

1 comment: