Jesus took his disciples north to territory where most of the crowds would not follow, into modern day Lebanon. Jesus led his disciples towards people who were not going to be openly hospitable towards them. He wanted to take some time to find out what the 12 knew and to have some time with them. But his desire to be left alone to do some important teaching and listening was interrupted by his fame and a call from a woman who persisted in asking for her daughter to be healed and released from the demon that effected her.
So why did Jesus refer to her and to her child as “dogs”. There are many in the Church that are unsettled by this image of Jesus, that he would apparently be mean and nasty to a woman who had a sick child. But one needs to stop and consider what was actually said and what Jesus was actually saying to understand what he was up to.
Jesus pointed out this woman that this was not the time for the healing and feeding for those who were outside a particular group. This time was meant to feed and strengthen those who would in time and trail have to declare Jesus as the risen and ascended Lord. There would be a time to bless and heal everyone, but not now. Interestingly, the woman did not give up. She persisted. She was unwilling to stop. She would not give up. When she was apparently being brushed off, she kept right on going. And as a result of her willingness to do so, that is when she was blessed and her prayer was answered. She had a hope and she was not willing to let the hope or its future go. Because of her persistence, her daughter was healed and free of the evil that was destroying her.
What does our world, our Church look and sound like when God is in charge? When people who are without hope are given hope; when people who are blind are given sight, and people who have been formerly deaf are able to hearing; when people who are imprisoned are set free and those who are in debt are forgiven and those who are dead are raised to life... that is what the kingdom of God looks like.
How do we see it? We need to look beyond the past to the future that we might make this present different; better. We need to move from looking for a blessing to being a blessing around us; giving thanks for all that we have been given. When God is in charge, the Church and the world become fundamentally different; transformed.
Why should we become a blessing? It comes back to this mom who would not stop, would not give up, and would not go away. In the days that followed, Jesus healed another man from the North and fed another 4000 people, just has had done before. Others benefited from her persistence and opened a path for them to receive “all the benefits of his passion”. Yes the world is messed up. Yes there are divisions in the Church and there are all kinds of problems there too. Everything seems apparently in chaos. All we seem to do is go round and round in circles and nothing ever seems to change, perhaps in large part because we don’t want to look past all the things that we think are important, to the things that God wants us to focus on.
We are called to be kingdom people. We are made to be resurrection people. We are to be people who are not hobbled or fettered to the whims and will of this present world. We are called to build our Church towards that great moment when we will see God face to face. So let us persist in the risk of faith, continuing to be people of hope, that we might dream and change the world according to God’s will and plan.