Rejection leading to reconciliation (Rom 11, 15)
Even a terrible situation serves the purposes of God, who wants us to be optimistic and inventive too.
The disciples find the situation intolerable: a woman, a Canaanite besides, calling out after them at the top of her voice. They ask Jesus to send her away, or attend to her—in some Spanish translations. But whether to send away or attend to, they want her to get lost
Jesus speaks to her finally, though his words are none too encouraging. But really, which human being, no matter how skeptical, would doubt the faith of this mother who is looking for her daughter’s healing? Even if anyone doubts, not Jesus certainly, compassionate that he is. Just by her persistent maternal cry, he can tell that her faith is great and that she will not desist until she gets what she desires.
Jesus’ inattention, therefore, and his rejecting words, either insulting even or condescending, given the reference to dogs, have as their target, I think, not so much the Canaanite as the disciples themselves. More than to put her faith to the test, Jesus wants his disciples and others equally intolerant to see that not infrequently those who are considered a pack of dogs, riffraff, unpleasant people and misfits, show greater faith.
The disciples’ displeasure serves to teach that the house of God is for all peoples. Those who do not belong to us have potential. The unbreakable faith of many of them should put us to shame. As Jesus warns, the most unlikely individuals are entering the kingdom of God before us.
St. Paul continues what Jesus has inaugurated in accordance with Zech 8, 23: “In those days ten people from nations of every language will take hold, yes, will take hold of the cloak of every Judahite and say, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” Rejected by those of his own race, the apostle turns to the pagans. And he does not fail to point out that the rejection of his people means the reconciliation of the world and that the disobedience of all is just one more opportunity for God to have mercy upon all. Having a creative imagination, St. Paul catches a glimpse of a resurrection in Israel’s acceptance.
And St. Vincent de Paul shows himself very creative, the one who taught: “It is not enough for me to love God, if my neighbor does not love him” (Coste XII:262). His small beginnings and his great achievements, realized in partnership with all kinds of people, attest to this. Simple in his creativity and in his service to the poor, he knows how to overcome the limitations of age (Coste X:136). His creativity, no doubt, is born of his vision of the infinitely inventive love that gave rise to the Eucharist (Coste XI:146).