Is 56:1, 6-7
Rom 11:13-15, 29-32
Mt 15:21-28

Who Belongs in the Circle?
The readings for the Sunday of August 17th made me think about the times in my life when I was an outsider to an insider group. In high school my family situation was a bit tough my junior and senior year. My pals started drinking at the end of our sophomore year and I joined them. By the end of my junior year I decided to stop.

I would like to say it was my fine sense of right and wrong which guided me, but truth be told I was afraid to get caught and add one more item for the town’s people to talk about… as it pertained to my family. By the beginning of senior year of high school I had moved my social position from insider to outsider. My former friends worried that I couldn’t be trusted, so they stopped inviting me to gatherings. I didn’t for see this coming and it took a good long while to understand their fears and forgive them.

What I learned in this situation is how quickly one can be perceived and treated like an outsider. It didn’t feel good. I was lucky enough to deal with my teenage arrogance and meet new friends who readily accepted me. It was a hard lesson.

So when I think about this amazingly brave Canaanite woman asking Jesus for help, I am wowed by her courage and tenaciousness. Here she was a cultural outsider and seemingly Jesus and his disciples were trying to shake her off. Yet, she persevered as she continued to ask Jesus to respond to the need of her very sick daughter.

For me, Jesus doesn’t come off looking too good here. He responds to the woman it seems not because all are God’s children, but rather because the woman’s logic held forth and her deep belief that Jesus could make a difference in the life of her daughter.

How often have I dared as an outsider to ask a group of strangers who may be smarter, wealthier, tougher, seemingly more important than me for a need connected to physical and/or spiritual wholeness? How often have I been the insider who made sharp despairing remarks about someone who was the “outsider?”

In this coming week when I question what I can ask God for in prayer I will remember the courage of the Canaanite woman. She was not willing for either herself or her daughter to be left out of the expansive nature of God’s love and healing to all children.