This past Sunday the scripture reading was Matthew 15:21-28. The sermon brought this first century story to the present. An age-old conflict among groups that cause mistrust, fear, and anger. We are suspicious of groups, because we don’t know them. The reading and the sermon gave me another insight into the contemporary civil conflicts. People of different backgrounds are unsure of each other – prejudice is an adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand without good justification. Until we see each other as fellow travelers, the situation will never change. Here is the story.
A Canaanite woman entreats the Master to cure her daughter. First, he ignores her. Then his disciples ask him to send her away because she is bugging them. The woman keeps asking for Jesus to help her. His reply is “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” The woman was not about to be dismissed continuing to ask for help for her daughter. Now the insult “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” However, she was ready with her reply. “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scarps that fall from the table of their masters.” This hit home, He compliments her on her faith and cures her daughter.
This story is representative of how we respond to prejudice and misunderstanding others. The priest took this ancient story and brought it to the present. This is the value of listening to the past by bringing it into the present. The process is the same regardless of the period.
- First, we ignore them.
- Then we justify why we are not interested in their situation.
- And finally, we insult the individual or group.
The only way to break this cycle is to overcome ignoring, justifying, and insulting by listening, acknowledging, and understanding. You overcome prejudice by meeting each other’s humanity.