I brought dinner.

But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” 

Yesterday, after Holy Mass for the Dormition, I had the opportunity to spend time with our friend, Bishop Judy Murphy-Jack, Miss Adrienne from Team Esteem, and the Hon. Owusu Anane, a member of Albany’s Common Council. We sat on Bishop’s porch in a beautiful neighborhood on a great day and strategized ideas to address the serious matters pressing on the people of our region and the city. While weighty matter, just spending time on a porch in an old school way and talking with people of faith uplifted us and gave us renewed hope.

The Canaanite woman had serious weighty matter to discuss with Jesus. She wanted to sit on his porch and tell Him about her daughter and her needs. In hope, she sounded the age-old cry of people of faith, â€œLord, help me.”

Jesus’ response was not welcoming. He basically said, Look, I brought dinner, but it is not for you. He referred to her as a dog, a Jewish term of contempt for Gentiles. Yet, He would not concede to the disciples request to send her away. He left the door open as He had in prior encounters with the Gentiles. Jesus leaves the door open to all who want to come onto His porch, to talk with Him, and to eat at His table, but we must take action.

In Jesus’ day, Canaanite was an ancient term for a people who did not know God, worshiped false gods, and were God’s enemies. This Canaanite woman, at face value a false god worshipper, needed to show the truth of her faith; Jesus could not just snap His fingers and make her a believer. She does and hangs on through Jesus ignoring her and telling her that the dinner was not for her. She does not take silence or “no” for an answer. She takes the action necessary to show herself as God’s faithful daughter, not an enemy of God. Jesus then grants her request.

Sophia comes here today as an outsider and will leave as one who will now have the opportunity to fully grow into a person of faith, a believer. It won’t just happen, no magic finger snapping here. To help her grow and enjoy porch time with Jesus and the dinner Jesus brought will take work. Sophia, those who brought her, and we commit to taking on the work of building her into a faithful daughter. Let us all commit to helping her become that woman of wisdom who hears Jesus say: â€œO woman, great is your faith!” and whose hope is constantly renewed.

Wait! I need
to ask.

“Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.”

We look to continue our process of growth and becoming in our Christian journey; to become better in our walk with Jesus and each other.

In our Old testament scripture, we encounter Solomon, the young successor to his father, David, who had just died. Solomon, age twelve, took David’s throne. Before his passing, David acknowledged Solomon’s intelligence and wisdom saying: “You are wise; you will know what to do to.”

It is longstanding worldly human practice to go with what people say about us. We trust their wisdom and understanding, especially if they are people of power in our lives. Our bosses compliment us, we eat it up. A talented person says we are talented or special, we trust their judgment. A professor notes our intelligence, we trust that.

It would have been easy for Solomon to just trust what his father had said. After all, these were words from David’s death bed – words most people value in a very special way. He was wise and intelligent according to his father, the King. Thus, when God spoke to Solomon, Solomon could have asked for anything else. Why ask for wisdom and intelligence if he already had it? Instead, he humbled himself before God. He accounted himself as having nothing and asked God for the very things his father said he already had.

It should be this way for us as we grow and develop in our Christian walk. We should be the children of our heavenly Father asking Him for all gifts. This requires vast humility. Having that kind of humility is why Solomon was blessed and praised by God! Having that kind of humility gave Solomon not only the gift of wisdom and intelligence, but also long life, riches, success, and the life of his enemies.

St. Paul expands on this saying: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

If we love God, if we walk humbly with Him, if we trust judgment to Him and stay aligned with His will, we will be vastly rewarded. The littlest ones in our lives get this in a special way. If they are asked to do something or go somewhere, if they are asked to make a judgment, their instinct is to stop, say wait, and say: ‘I need to ask.’

This is what God is seeking from us. I think I am wise – Wait, I need to ask. I think I know what I should do – Wait, I need to ask. My judgments are correct and righteous – Wait, I need to ask.

The treasure hid in a field is God’s gifts for us. It is the kingdom and all it holds for us. There is a great treasure for us if we only ask.

Let us seek
His wisdom.

Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven columns; she has dressed her meat, mixed her wine, yes, she has spread her table. She has sent out her maidens; she calls from the heights out over the city: “Let whoever is simple turn in here; To the one who lacks understanding, she says, Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.”

Jesus was really putting it all out there: “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The people listening to Him went from confusion to serious concern: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

How indeed! To keep properly Kosher, that is to observe Kashrut, the body of Jewish law dealing with what foods can and cannot be eaten and how those foods must be prepared and eaten, these people could not possibly consume human flesh nor drink blood. Not consuming blood is strictly prohibited in the Torah (see Leviticus 7:26-27 and 17:10-14). The Torah states that one must not eat blood because the life of the animal (literally, the soul) is contained in the blood.

Therein is the wisdom of what Jesus is saying to us, the key to His love for us. His earthly mission and His everlasting desire are to give Himself for and to us. He gives us His soul – His lifeblood.

Some of us may have donated blood at work, church, or in our community. What a wonderful gift to give. We can draw a comparison between our gifts of life giving blood to what Jesus has done for us in His flesh and blood. We can perceive the great wisdom of His gift.

While our gift can only help a few people and as a rule only those who have compatible blood types, Jesus gave His blood for each of us. Jesus’ blood reaches people of every blood type – of every race, rank, class, tribe, and tongue. Our giving of blood is a donation while Jesus’ gift was a complete sacrificial self-giving. When we give blood we do so in sterile conditions under medical supervision. Jesus’ gift was drawn-out, tortuous, and painful. Our donated blood is very expensive for those who may receive it. Jesus’ blood is free to all who claim Him by faith. If our blood is not used, it expires in a little over a month. Jesus’ blood is as effective today as it was when it was given at the cross. One pint of our blood can save up to three lives. One drop of the Jesus’ blood has saved the world (John 3:16).

By giving us the gift of His flesh and blood He fully gives Himself to us. The wisdom therein is that through His gift we have His soul in us and inherit eternal life. Ever seek His wisdom.

Refection for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wasn’t it painfully obvious?

“Brothers and sisters: Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity”

Wisdom lies in our ability to admit the obvious. To do what we know is right, and in so doing avoid the mistakes and pain that destroy us.

We know that we cannot fathom God’s wisdom. God is God, incomprehensible to the human mind, eternal. His wisdom goes from eternity past to eternity future. No one has ever instructed Him and never will.

God knows that too. He knows our frailty and our inability. That’s why He comes to us over and over throughout salvation history – right to this day. That’s why He is with us right now.

God comes to us for the purpose of making things plain and simple for us. Doing that He paves our way back to Him.

Proverbs tells us that God sets forth everything we need. It is a banquet of knowledge and wisdom. It is a banquet that is open to all. He sends out His messengers to call everyone to the banquet. There aren’t any requirements, just come and feast – and learn.

St. Paul makes it more obvious – no metaphor. Don’t be stupid; watch how you live, be wise, take advantage of opportunity. What are the opportunities – they are simple: live in the Spirit of God, know Him, love Him, live together as His body and be saved.

Jesus delivers some difficult words today, Eat my flesh, drink my blood, and live forever. The Jewish people, for the most part, couldn’t accept that – it was crazy talk to them. The Romans couldn’t understand anyone offering their flesh and blood to another because they would die in the process. Yet God makes it easy for us to be wise and accept His way. The light of faith gives us the wisdom to know Jesus is God. We know we can trust His truth and His word. In doing that, in following Him we gain true wisdom.

God’s wisdom is easily obtained and knowable. It is this, that He loves us, gave His all for us, has made us one, and wants us to live the way He showed us.

The way of God is pretty simple because it is the way of life. In following God’s wisdom, the right paths He has pointed to, we won’t be led off a cliff and into pain.

Following what Jesus has made painfully obvious, in His taking up the painful punishment we deserve for our failings, keeps us from eternal pain and loss. So let’s be wise, and follow Him.