These days there are lots of ways in which we get our news – the classics: the evening news and the daily newsprint. The more modern 24-hour television and radio news – and even that gives way to the online, instant news that is a click away, a pop-up notification or just a swipe away. While the modality changes, these days what is common is that each is a venue in our hunger for good news. Perhaps “hunger” does not describe our condition. These days we are starving for good news as we are offered an unending buffet of devastating headlines about the pandemic, the economy, Beirut, civil war, the rise of intolerance, … all fueled by rumor, innuendo, and the well-placed lie …. I could go on.
Just hearing and seeing it all … doesn’t it make you numb? So, we either stop watching all together or, in the search for good news, end up continually scrolling and unintentionally saturate ourselves with even worse news.
Where is our good news?
…and of course, this is the point in the homily where the preacher answers, “It is right here in the Bible, in the life of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.” And the preacher is correct. God, who desires that all be saved, leaned into creation and sent his only son, Jesus our Savior, who became us in all things except sin. Jesus who taught, cured, restored, forgave and in every situation, leans towards us in love, mercy, justice and healing. No matter how terrible or seemingly hopeless the situation, the One sent by God, who is God, holds out for us the life-giving, death-defying, world-changing promise of the Gospel. The One who when asked for healing for a possessed daughter, told the mother of the child: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” and “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”
What? Seriously…where is her good news?
There has been lots of people writing about this awkward moment in the story of Jesus – why did he say what he said, speculating about the tone, the intention, and more.Was he testing her, was he growing in his ministry and learning (as we human would), he is just having a bad day… And that is all good and thought provoking…but I think the question that is raised for us is this: when people come to us how do we respond?
Because if Jesus can have a bad day, what about us? What happens when a plea for good news, for hope, healing, hospitality, holiness comes to our doorstep? What happens when we hear the cry of the needy, the poor, the one in our life who just needs a good hug – and we have had a bad day. When we don’t feel generous, don’t feel compassion, are just too tired, too exhausted, too discouraged – what happens on those days?
Or maybe it’s a day when we are super busy, so focused that our listening skills are turned way down. What happens on those days?
All have experience of meeting a modern day Canaanite woman when we were not the Good news for her. When we did not offer the good news to the one who has asked it of us. Those were not our best of days. But do we, did we learn from it?
We have to remember that It is not possible for us to have all the answers. Not possible to fulfill every request or solve every problem. But we can remember: God desires all to be saved and so God’s saving, reconciling, liberating power is available for all people, in all places, at all times. We can remember that God ever leans towards us with love, mercy, justice and healing.
And maybe that can help us to hang in there a bit longer. The encounter between Jesus and the Canaanite woman lasted long that whatever the reason for Jesus’ words, she hung in there and got her good news. She got a seat at the table.
What happened next? Scripture is silent. But I am pretty sure she went home and said, “Did you hear the good news?”
And maybe that is part of the key of being Christian in the world, of being the good news for others – if we can engage just a little even if not our best moment – and then hang in to extend the conversation. If we can lean, even if only ever so slightly into other people’s life….
If we can do that, then people will find the Good News.
We don’t need to be perfect. We need to willing to lean.