Have you ever read the story of the woman of Canaan who comes to Jesus to ask him to heal her daughter? Matthew 15:21-28. Last semester in one of my classes at theology school we went over this passage, and there were many conflicting opinions about what it means. And sure enough, at first glance it seems like Jesus is awfully harsh on this Canaanite woman, saying that he wasn’t sent for her and that “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” (15:26) Why is this his response to her request for healing?
I think this story makes a little more sense when taken in context and when thinking about its deeper, spiritual meaning. Going back through the Hebrew Scriptures (not to mention other ancient texts) it becomes apparent that Canaanites worshiped other gods than Israel’s one God. There was a longstanding tradition of Israel’s prophets and leaders warning against association with Canaanites for fear of the people falling into idolatry. And the passage where Jesus meets a Canaanite woman comes right after an interaction between Jesus and some scribes and Pharisees who accuse him of breaking with tradition.
So what does all this mean? Well, what if Jesus’ words were really a challenge to idolatry? And going further, what if this interaction is an example of Jesus’ challenge to take the Gospel of Love to every creature and not to let tradition keep us in a mindset that others who aren’t like us don’t deserve healing and salvation, that they can’t enter the kingdom of God? After all, the story ends with Jesus calling the woman’s faith “great” and a wonderful healing of her daughter. Jesus spoke to and healed people who were commonly outsiders to his society, and maybe his harsh words in this case were aimed more at the mindset of those around him than at this woman who so clearly recognized Jesus and his spiritual ministry.
Please join us Wednesday evening at the bank (see address below) for more readings involving this story and time to share testimonies of healing, love, and gratitude!
Also: first time to a Christian Science church service? Find out what to expect by checking out our “Services” page: https://jpchurch.com/services/
@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map). 10:35-11:35 AM, EST, on Sunday and 7:35-8:35 PM, EST, on Wednesday.
-Or by phone (605) 475-4000, code: 636128#