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August 15, 2023
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August 15, 2023

A spirit of inclusivity

Now that the Local Government Elections are over with all the relevant political parties and commentators having their say, this Sunday’s Gospel passage may be instructive for our time.

In Matthew 15:21–28, we encounter the story of the Canaanite woman who approached Jesus, pleading for the healing of her daughter. This passage teaches us several important lessons about faith, persistence, and the inclusivity of God’s mercy.

We see the woman’s unwavering faith and determination. Despite being a pagan and not part of the People of Israel, she approaches Jesus with great humility and trust, believing that He has the power to heal her daughter. Her faith is so strong that she is willing to persist even when Jesus initially seems to reject her request.

This passage highlights the compassionate nature of Jesus. Although He initially responds to the woman with what may seem like a harsh statement, He does so to test her faith and to draw out her persistence. Jesus recognises the depth of her faith and commends her for it, ultimately granting her request and healing her daughter.

The story reminds us that God’s mercy is not limited to a particular group, ethnicity, or community. Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman demonstrates that God’s love and healing are available to all who approach Him with faith and humility, regardless of their background or status.

In our own lives, and in the life of our blessed nation which will commemorate another anniversary of Independence at the end of the month, we can draw inspiration from the Canaanite woman’s example.

We are called to approach Jesus with unwavering faith, persistently seeking His mercy and healing. Like the woman, we should not be discouraged by initial setbacks or apparent obstacles, but rather continue to trust in God’s goodness and love.

This passage challenges us to examine our own attitudes towards others. Of late, there have been incidents where our tolerant nature has been tested. Indeed, the temperature of the country is of barely concealed impatience with each other, on the roads for example, mistrust, and for some who chose not to vote in the past local elections, disgust with the sensational utterances of political leaders on the platforms, who seemed to forget respect to the other and common good. Regardless of class, political affiliation, or group identity, we, as Jesus extended His mercy to the Canaanite woman, are called  to embrace a spirit of inclusivity and compassion.

We should not limit our love and care – and service, in the case of our newly elected local government representatives – to those who are like us or belong to our own community or party. Rather extend it to all, recognising the inherent dignity and worth of every person.

The story of the Canaanite woman teaches us about the power of faith, the compassion of Jesus, and the inclusivity of God’s mercy.

May we be inspired by the example of the Canaanite woman and strive to live out these lessons in our own lives.