Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Readings – Genesis 45:1-15; Psalm 133; Romans 11:1-2a,29-32; Matthew 15:10-28
Our first reading continues the story of Joseph, son of Jacob and Rachel. Joseph was a “seer”, one who could see beyond day to day events.
[ Genesis 37:5-11]
So, the brothers of Joseph sold him into slavery, thinking they would never see or hear of him again. Taken to Egypt, Joseph found his way as a slave into Pharaoh’s household. And Pharaoh took Joseph’s “seeing” seriously.
The man Pharaoh placed to oversee the seven good years and the seven years of famine, that man was Joseph.
So, when Jacob’s sons came to purchase grain two years into the drought, who did they encounter – Joseph. And, Joseph, seeing beyond the past hatred and anger, by the grace of God, invited them to gather up their families and return to Egypt to settle and to survive the remaining five years of famine.
St. Paul was also a “seer”; he was able to see beyond the days when Jews were vilified and rejected by the earliest Christians. In today’s reading St. Paul declared that God had not rejected the Israelites. He wrote, “I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people…” As he wrote earlier in Romans, nothing can separate us from God’s love, even the cries of “Crucify him, crucify him” in the courtyard of Pontius Pilate, even the denial of St. Peter in the courtyard of the high priest when he said, “I do not know the man”.
Our Gospel reading reveals Jesus as a “seer”, able to see over the horizon to when even Canaanites would receive the grace of God. In Tyre and Sidon (present day Lebanon) there was a bothersome woman whom the disciples wished to dismiss since she was harassing their beloved rabbi. Jesus, rather than dismissing her, addressed her in the manner of the day – “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. She came right back at him while kneeling, “Lord, help me”. Jesus replied, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs”. Quickly she responded, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table”. Finally, to this demanding foreign woman, Jesus affirmed, “Woman, great is our faith! Let it be done for you as you wish”. And her daughter was instantly healed. The woman would not be denied, and Jesus revealed to us all, that the gift of faith extends beyond borders and nationalities.
Likewise, Jesus saw beyond the pain of the cross – “Father, forgive them…”, forgive the crowds chanting “Crucify him”, forgive the soldiers who drove the nails and who thrust the spear. Jesus saw over the horizon to the grace of God that surpasses all understanding.
The men of Israel, Jacob’s son, did not see beyond their own jealousy. The disciples did not see beyond the foreign woman harassing their beloved rabbi. The members of the earliest church did not see beyond the shouts of “Crucify him”. The earliest church did not see beyond the Roman soldiers and the empire’s brutality. Yet, Jesus did! Jesus saw over the horizon of the current events.
And whom do we follow? Whom do we call Lord and Savior?
May our eyes focus on Jesus. As Peter was able to walk on the lake waters focused on Jesus, so may we walk with him. And when we get distracted and begin to flounder may we, too, like Peter, know that the hand of Jesus is always there to steady us and to keep us safe.
With him we are able to navigate our times of trouble, and to see beyond our current day, beyond the horizon, our eyes on the eternal and on the eternal values.
Again, from St. Paul writing to the troubled and feuding people of Corinth, “Faith, hope and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is love. Pursue love.
Rejoice and Be Safe.