Twentieth Sunday Year A: It’s not fair to throw the children’s food to the house-dogs!

Matthew 16:13-20

Everything about Matthew’s description of this woman’s approach to Jesus suggests that she’s coming from somewhere that’s distant from God.

Notice Matthew’s words; “out” comes a woman (“out” as though from a foreign place or somewhere different). She’s shouting after Jesus. Shouting so loudly that she’s creating a scene that embarrasses the disciples, unnerves them, makes them uneasy.

She describes her daughter as being “tormented by a devil” – her daughter is held captive to some degree by the very enemy of God.

Jesus actions (“he answered her not a word”) and eventually his words (he compares her spiritual status to that of “house dogs” at the children’s table! Read spiritual maturity or state of soul before God) merely confirm Matthew’s description of the woman.

Here again we glimpse something that makes many Christians uncomfortable – there’s order in the spiritual realm. We’re not all equal – what’s equal is our opportunity to progress spiritually. We’re measured against an objective moral order that’s also a loving heart.

Secondly, we glimpse that anybody who wants to can progress in the spiritual life, all that’s needed is determination, the ability to take God’s knock-backs on the chin, to bear correction and even humiliation if necessary, to know your place before God, to know your misery (read sinfulness) and to keep approaching him.

The word approach here means daily prayer, active participation in Mass (activity that’s essentially interior before it’s exterior), constant unfailing knocking, talking, demanding, reading the Gospels.

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