Some Catholics and the Canaanite Woman

Jesus and the Canaanite Woman

Jesus and the Canaanite Woman

The Pharisees considered themselves to the be the chosen people. They were clean.  The Gentiles were filthy. They were the children of God. The Gentiles were dogs. Curs. Scum dogs and slum dogs.The Pharisees were the elect. They were inside.

If you were not in you were out. If you were a Gentile you were definitely out. If you were a heretic you were definitely out.

That’s why Jesus upset not only the tables in the Temple, but the whole self righteous, uptight gang of the Pharisees.

When he told the story of the Good Samaritan it was similar to a Catholic suggesting that a Protestant might just possibly be a good, kind and godly person….and maybe a better person than many Catholics.

Some Catholics would be up at arms at such a suggestion.

“Whaat!” they say, “How could that Protestant who is a “notorious heretic” be worthy of a Catholic funeral!! How can you suggest that these heretics are brothers and sisters in Christ??”

The Samaritans were like Protestants are to Catholics. They were a breakaway sect, and the Pharisees considered them anathema, excommunicate, forever outside and never saved just like Some Catholics perceive Protestants.

So when Jesus talked to a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well everyone was scandalized further. He was not supposed to speak to a woman alone, but to a Samaritan woman!! Furthermore, the village well was a hook up place. It’s where men went to meet women, and as this woman had a bad reputation in addition to being a Samaritan what was Jesus thinking!

The disciples were also scandalized and what did the Pharisees think? You can be sure they heard about that and their self righteous gossip mill went into overdrive.

“Did you hear who the prophet Jesus was talking to? Why, he caused grave scandal! He produced an occasion to sin!! He flouted the rule! He encouraged rebellion and dissension!! He was ambiguous in his message!! He is causing confusion and offense to the faithful! Doesn’t he know that article sixteen of sub point thirty two of the Code of Pharisaical Law says “Thou shalt not speak to a Samaritan woman alone?”

Sounds like Some Catholics’ opinion of Pope Francis.

Then there’s the Canaanite woman in this weekend’s gospel.

Jesus breaks the rules. The Canaanites were notorious pagans. The Jews considered them dogs and scum. They were human vermin…filthy flea bitten, garbage eating, road kill snuffling scavengers.

The Canaanite woman was trash.

The disciples try to get rid of her, but Jesus engages her in conversation.

I think he was being ironical and had a twinkle in his eye when he said to her, “I have come to the lost sheep of Israel. Don’t you know you cannot take bread from children and give it to the dogs?”

I think his subtext was, “See all these sour faced, uptight, legalistic Pharisees? They’re listening to me waiting for me to say the wrong thing, so I am saying the right thing, but you get my drift don’t you because you’re a smart lady and while I’m saying the right thing, we both know that they’re being legalistic and judgmental right? Furthermore, wink wink nudge nudge they know I’m being smart alecky too–saying the right thing but not meaning it, and it makes them even madder.”

So she quips joins in the badinage and quips back, “But dogs will gather up the crumbs under the table…”

And he heals her daughter.

I wonder what Some Catholics would have said in the situation?

In the passage just before this story in Matthew’s gospel we see them picking a persnickety fight with Jesus over his disciples not washing their hands as they should have done in strict adherence to the law.

Jesus basically tells them that it’s pointless to be clean on the outside if you’re not clean on the inside.

They weren’t happy with that.

Self righteous people hate, hate, HATE to be told they are unclean in any way. Point out the faults, the true faults of Some Catholics and they seethe with rage.

By your fruits you will know them. Jesus called the Pharisees a brood of vipers. Strong language from gentle Jesus meek and mild.

When Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman and the Canaanite woman and treated them like decent human beings with a soul worth saving–when he looked on them city compassion the Pharisees condemned him.

It reminds me of the way Some Catholics treat people who believe godly, prayerful Protestants might just be our brothers and sisters in the Lord.


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