Everybody's Got One
A blog. An opinion. An elimination orifice. A dream. An agenda. A past. A hidden talent. A conceptual filter. A cross. A charism (often the same). A task. A wound. A destiny. A lost love. A blind spot. A bad habit. A secret. A passion. A soul ... okay, maybe not everybody ...
Sunday, August 18, 2002

 

The gospel of the Canaanite woman is a tough one to preach on. We are so (publicly) embarrassed by social status and difference, so captured by our modernist presumptions that a properly ordered society necessarily eliminates all such distinctions and that social virtue consists primarily in the exaltation of the marginalized, that we can't think or talk about it honestly. Most homilists resort to some variation on the claim that Jesus – Avatar of Inclusiveness – was only kidding around, forcing everyone to confront the realities of their own sexist, racist, classist (whatever) prejudices by pretending to share them. Yeah, right.

A useful argument can be made that the Incarnate Christ only gradually comprehended the extent of his mission, but it's a subtle one to preach without veering dangerously close to present-day versions of Arianism or Catharism (divine but not all-knowing? Limited comprehension but not due to inherent fleshly incapacity? Tough sells, both) and pushing who-knows-what buttons in the congregation. So we're treated to straw men carelessly constructed and perfunctorily demolished. Yawn.

The sad thing is, this modern reinterpretation completely overlooks the woman's humility, and her willing self-abnegation in service to another whom she loves – profoundly Christian virtues we desperately lack, both in the church and in the wider culture. (Actually we don't lack the virtues, completely – both families and society as a whole fall apart without them, but not every family has, or every community. Yet. We just don't reward them, or even recognize their existence except to dismiss as co-dependent. Behavioral extinguishment to follow, as the night the day.)

posted by Kelly | 12:10 PM link
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