Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzz-Word - Consideration
So and so calls himself/herself a "Christian"! You'd never think it judging by his/her behaviour! Frequently we excuse our poor public image because of "pressure", and we allow our impatience to show. Today's Gospel reading provides us with food for thought on this problem.

Isaiah 56: 1, 6-7: This reading foreshadows the universal character of God's plan of salvation. It would start by using a few individuals and then a particular race, so that his message would gradually spread from strong roots to the whole world.

Romans 11:13-15, 29-32: In the epistle, Paul renews his appeal to the Jews to accept Christ as the Messiah, and, through them also to pagans. The invitation to reconciliation that Christ extends is universal.

Matthew 15: 21-28: The gospel provides us with our main theme, namely, to be attentive to the needs of people and the trust that they have in us. Something about the character and charisma of Jesus prompted the woman to waive convention and to speak out boldly, knowing that in all likelihood she would be rebuffed. But desperation drives her on. Jesus is amazed at the trust she shows in his power; after a little more teasing, he grants her favour marvelling that the faith he had expected to find among the children of Israel is present here in the heart of a foreigner

Point 1: There are many facets to a Christian personality. Christian commitment lays heavy emphasis on the need to be considerate. "Do unto others, as you would have done unto yourself". There are few of us, however, for whom this does not present difficulty. And that is why we need to be aware of the exampleƒ‚‚‚  we give - for many the only Christ they will meet is in our presentation. It is vital, then, that we present Him as well as possible in our behaviour. Reading to-day's Gospel, it would appear that, in this regard, the Apostles and Christ were no exception! For Jesus, as his earthly ministry was drawing to a close, it was a time for deliberate withdrawal from the crowds. The final confrontation was drawing near, and He wanted time to think and to prepare for the end. Particularly, He wanted time to prepare His disciples for the critical times ahead. The Galilean crowds had made this impossible, but, even when He withdrew to the coastlands, the crowds continued to follow Him with their demands to be taught and healed. Such constant demands must surely have tested Him; and, without doubt, the apostles were getting fed up.

Point 2: This is apparent from to-day's reading; at first, Christ ignored the woman; the apostles tried to put her off and, failing to do this, they appealed to Christ to get rid of her, because she was proving to be an embarrassment and a nuisance. Christ tried to explain that she was not Jewish, and that His mission was to the Jews - she was from Canaan. However, despite His early reluctance, Christ quickly responded to the faith that had prompted the woman's approach to Him. At first sight, the early exchange appears harsh; but, understanding the language of the day, it is a good example of the witty exchanges so common amongst people of that time - the ready ability to trade words; to match one riddle with another; to cap one wise saying with another - classical repartee! The climax of the story is that in Jesus the woman found a considerate and caring person.

Conclusion: Humans are generally inclined to be clannish; the bonds between those sharing the same family name, or the same religion, the same country of origin are immensely strong and are frequently the cause of bitter divisions. This is particularly so in today's supercharged cultural atmosphere in our society. This is not what Christ wants of his followers. The Christian character needs to reflect the broader, more open-minded nature shown by Christ in to-day's encounter. How often do we lose the opportunity to be considerate and caring through impatience and an unwillingness to listen to the need that is being expressed. Frequently we are prepared to grant a request simply to get rid of a nuisance - "anything for a bit of peace and quiet" - without considering the feelings of the person asking. And we all know that there are times when we are pushed to the limit. It is then that we need to follow Christ's example to take a second look - to review the situation, as Fagan in "Oliver", put it - so that we do not make hasty judgements and decisions.

Scriptural reference: "Every face turned to him grows brighter and is never ashamed.. A cry goes up from the poor man, and Yaweh hears, and helps him in all his troubles". (Psalm 34: 5-6)