Tue, 6 August 2019
(Nm.13:1-2,25-14:1,26-29,34-35; Ps.106:4,6-7,13-14,21-23; Mt.15:21-28)
“They forgot the God who had saved them.”
But He did not forget them. Though He curses them in our first reading for their lack of faith, and though they shall indeed all – except for Joshua and Caleb – die in the desert over forty years, their children shall enter and take the Promised Land from the five tribes which inhabit it; and despite their repeated faltering in following His word, He shall come to redeem them from their exile once again, and in a full way, in the Person of Jesus Christ.
The Israelites grumbled against Moses and against God in the desert. Fearful at the report of the “giants” in the land they were called to seize as their own, they failed to remember the Giant who fought for them, “who had done great deeds in Egypt.” “They waited not for His counsel,” nor trusted in His protection, and so they dissembled at what their eyes saw and their ears heard, having not the heart of faith, remembering not the word of the Lord. The people of the land may have been giants, but the Lord towers over all the earth. We must always remember His surpassing power.
And in our gospel we find one of the descendants of those who had made the Israelites so fearful to enter the Promised Land groveling at the feet of the Lord, this Son of David, indeed as a dog before its master. How fortunes have changed. Jesus says to this Canaanite woman, “My mission is only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” See God’s love for His people. See how He has kept the word of His covenant not to forget them. See how He yet chooses them from among the nations, sending His Son in the flesh as one of them. And yet, shall they recognize the grace that walks amongst them? Will their hearts be open to accept Him now, or hardened to His call and blind to His presence will they remain?
This question is asked of each one of us, brothers and sisters, for we are the spiritual descendants of the Israelite people. Will we remember Him and His Word amongst us? Do we recall all He has done for us? This Canaanite woman who begs crumbs from the Lord’s table is greatly blessed. She has the faith required for the kingdom of heaven. Again in Scripture it is a Gentile, a foreigner, who exhibits the faith the “sons and daughters” should have. The Lord uses such as these to shame His chosen ones and show them how far His love does spread, how great His grace truly is – that it can capture even these giants in its net. And so, should it not capture the Jew? And so, should we not be taken in it as well? Now that His salvation has extended to the ends of the earth, shall His chosen be forgotten? Will they continue to forget their place in His land? I pray it shall not be so for you and I, brothers and sisters, but that we will always remember His Name.
O LORD, if only we had faith!
we would never be afraid –
we would certainly be saved.
YHWH, why are we so forgetful of you and your power to save? Why are we who know you, who have seen your hand at work, who have been blessed by your abiding presence – why are we so blind to your unending love for our poor souls? Those who do not know you, who are so far away from you, come on their knees before your Son begging His grace and forgiveness, begging His blessed protection… and these receive answer to their prayers, even as those of your own household wither and die in the hardness of their hearts, in their lack of faith.
Forgive us, LORD, our crimes against you; let us not die in this desert of sin. Send your Chosen One to help us, to save us from the condemnation we deserve for our wicked ways. We are as mere grasshoppers before you, O Giant! Have pity on your faithless sons and gather us into the land you have promised.