This material was first published by Redemptorist Publications
and is included here with their permission.
Breaking down the barriers
Jesus’ response to a gentile mother, frantic about her daughter’s illness, sounds cruel, and out of character. But perhaps in this interaction there is a delightful shared humour.
Jesus is surrounded by his disciples protecting him from the crowds. The woman pushes through to Jesus even though the men try to shield him from her. Perhaps he catches her eye and they share each other’s frustration at not being able to talk directly. Something about this woman tells Jesus he can risk humour. He nods at his obstructive (Jewish) disciples who perhaps seem like children demanding his attention and says those difficult words “… it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”. Instantly she returns an irresistible response and even in the chaos she knows within her, before he speaks, that her daughter is well, the demon banished.
After the healing of the deaf man with a speech impediment the people proclaim with wonder that Jesus “makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak”. Do they also proclaim that he breaks down the barriers between Jew and Gentile? For us that’s good news. But what happens when we realise that Jesus also wants to break down the barriers we put up between ourselves and those we consider unworthy to share our food?. Do we recognise those barriers and are we prepared to break them down in response to God’s love freely given to all people?
Loving Father of us all, give us grace to share who we are and what we have with those in need; give us courage to break down barriers of fear and prejudice. fill us with your Spirit that we may proclaim with wonder the good news of your kingdom. Amen.