XX SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
isaiah 56:1, 6-7; romans 11:13-15, 29-32; matthew 15:21-28
in 1947, jackie robinson became the first afro-american to play major league baseball. he faced discrimination from teammates, derision by opponents, racial slurs from spectators. during one game in boston, when the slurs reached a peak, harry «pee wee» reese came over, and put his arm around robinson. there was silence in the stadium. robinson later said that gesture saved his career.
that gesture—immortalized in a bronze sculpture in keyspan park, brooklyn—also broke ethnic barriers.
in the gospel, no barrier could keep the canaanite woman away from JESUS… neither his indifferent silence nor his statement about his mission «only to the lost sheep of the house of israel» nor his apparent rebuke. her persistent faith persuaded JESUS to reach beyond ethnic/ geographical boundaries to cure her daughter.
the first and second readings set the stage for the drama in the gospel.
isaiah gives voice to GOD’s intention to extend israel’s privileges to all «foreigners who join themselves to the LORD.» GOD yearns to be in relationship with all peoples.
paul emphasises that GOD’s mercy is intended for all, whether jew or gentile.
pope francis symbolised this aspect of GOD’s love (and caused a furore among traditionalists!) when he washed the feet of two women and two muslims at a juvenile detention centre last year, and of disabled men and women of varied ethnicities and creeds.
do i reach out in love to all people irrespective of gender, caste, class, creed or ethnicity? will i imitate GOD and go beyond borders and barriers?