|Blind Men Sergey Ivanov (1883)|
- Genesis 45:1-15 and Psalm 133 •
- Isaiah 56:1, 6-8 and Psalm 67 •
- Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 •
- Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28
The Epistle and the Gospel for this Sunday reveal that the question of how the relation between 'old' and 'new' testaments to God's work in the world should be understood, surfaced at a very early stage. It confronted not only Paul, but even Jesus. Both faced the charge that embracing the Gospel meant abandoning the ‘faith of their fathers’, and by implication rejecting the God of Israel.
Their response makes it plain that the Christian Gospel is not about propagating a new religion and displacing the old, but about renewing faith in God’s promises to his Chosen People. ‘I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham’, Paul declares. ‘God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable’.
|The Canaanite Woman Bazzi Rahib (1684)|
The Canaanite woman, though, extracts from Jesus a hugely important concession. While the fresh ‘bread’ he offers is intended first and foremost for the ‘children’s’ table, the spiritual nourishment it offers is available far more widely, to anyone who has the faith to ask even for some crumbs. Here we see the ultimate answer to the question. God’s promises to his ancient Chosen People are also the promises he makes to all humanity through the Body of Christ. Ethnicity no longer matters. It is this crucial truth that makes both anti-Semitism and uncritical support for the modern state of Israel problematic from a properly Christian point of view.