Was Jesus Prejudiced?

After reading Matthew 15: 21-28 one would think so!  And I wouldn’t be surprised.  He was fully human and, being human, was raised with cultural and religious biases with which he had to grapple.  It’s important to remember that the Gospel of Matthew was written to a predominantly Jewish Christian community.  The Gospel reflects this bias.  Perhaps the author is illustrating for his Jewish hearers how even Jesus had to overcome prejudice, pointing to the reason why they should welcome even “pagan” Gentiles as equals?   Whatever the case, we have a situation where prejudice is obvious; and, gratefully, overcome.

A pagan woman presents herself to Jesus asking for healing for her daughter.  Jesus dismisses her, even calling her a dog – probably a common term for Gentiles at the time.  She persists though and, in the end, Jesus recognizes – even in this woman – great need and great faith; and in the end, he helps her.

As much as I would like to think that I welcome all people, I am embarrassed to admit that I don’t.  There are certain types – usually close minded, fundamentalist types – that I often ignore and avoid.  I am challenged to look beyond labels and preconceived notions and open my heart to even these.   I am challenged to help even those who would prefer that “my type,” either change or cease to exist.  The gifts and talents that I have to offer I am to give even to these people, and I am not to view this as a waste, or as “throwing food to the dogs!”

Do I share what I have to offer with all people, or just a select few?


One response to “Was Jesus Prejudiced?

  • sydcatholic80

    I have to admit, I heard this Gospel today in mass, and the following homily articulated this exact point. I have to say for a short time I was a little stunned! How could Jesus be prejudiced?
    Jesus did say that he came for everyone, the virtuous and the sinner. He came to bring peace, not to condemn.

    I guess the notion of context is very important to understand this passage, but I agree, it does tend to make one reflect on themselves, and how they give of themselves to the world.

    If Jesus could overcome the prejudice of his time, and see the faith in that womans heart, can I too do the same? Can I look on another fellow human being, and look past the exterior to see them as they are on the inside? Am I willing to help anyone who needs it, not just someone who can help me in return?

    Something to reflect on…

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