August 16, 2020
Have you ever needed something, asked someone for it, and been told no, just because you did not belong to their "group?" I mean, they could have easily given you what you asked for, but because you were not one of them, they told you to go away and wanted nothing more to do with you. I remember when I was 16 years old. I had just put together an old '62 Chevy Bel Air. It had sat dead at the end of my parent's driveway for two years. After rebuilding the carburetor, installing new lifters, doing body work and a paint job I was ready to drive my first car. I was really excited about it! I went to the auto repair garage down the road and brought it in for inspection. I had never been there, or to any repair garage before. I remember the great smell of oil and cigar in the air. This was it, the final moments where my car would be given the go ahead to take me anywhere I needed to go. I asked the man behind the counter for a New York State inspection on my car. Then it happened, he looked at me, looked at my car, paused and said, "I ain't gonna inspect some young punk's junk car!" And he walked away. I said, "You mean that..." and he interrupted and said, "Go away." So I did. It wasn't a good feeling. It seemed I didn't belong to the group of people that he would serve. Maybe I was too young, my hair was too long (it was), maybe he didn't think that I had enough money to pay him. Maybe he was just having a bad day. But, I did learn that day what it feels like to be excluded.
I bring that up because that is what came to my mind as I read this weekend's Gospel. A Canaanite woman came up to Jesus and asked to have her daughter healed. Now, she wasn't part of Jesus' "group." She wasn't Jewish. She wasn't a man. According to the custom of that time, she had no business asking Jesus for a favor, let alone a miraculous healing of her daughter. But Jesus goes beyond all that and gives the woman exactly what she asks for. He heals her daughter. This Canaanite woman had probably been excluded from groups like Jesus and his followers plenty of times, but he wasn't going to let it happen this time.
The fact is, there are plenty of people today who are being excluded by people like you and I, and we may not even know it. We have work to do. I believe that all of us, from time to time, don't treat some people as well as we should, simply because we don't know them. Maybe they aren't Christian enough. Maybe they have too much money, or too little money. Maybe they come from a different country. What would happen if we treated everyone with the same kindness and concern that we would treat our own family and friends? I believe the world would become just a little bit more like God intended. Amen.