20th Sunday Ordinary Time – Overview…

Jesus & the Caananite Woman

I do not get Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus in this gospel passage.  Bad hair day?  Ate the wrong food?  Got up on the wrong side of the bed?  I don’t get it.  So, I won’t address that. Nor will I address the persistence of the Canaanite woman.  Let’s call her Shirley.

I now believe that this passage concerns the disciples more than it does Jesus or Shirley.  Matthew contrasts both the behavior of the disciples (dismissing others & ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s’) and the faith of the disciples with Shirley.

So, what’s the deal with the disciples wanting to send others away?  This first instance below seems to indicate that they could not/did not want to deal with the hungry.  Why?

Matthew 14:15            When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

The second shows Jesus intervening so that they don’t come to him with this same advice.  The same request they made of him regarding Shirley.

Matthew 15:32f             Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.”  The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?”

The third case has them rebuking the parents of the children who sought a blessing from Jesus. It’s an implicit picture of “sending them away.”

Matthew 19:13-15            Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them;  but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’  And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.

Consult your own experience.  What leads you to wish to “send them away?”  Which ideas, attitudes, or feelings come to the surface here for you? 

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