20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A ON AUGUST 16, 2020 (R. 1: Isaiah 56: 1, 6- 7; Psalm 67: 2- 3, 5, 6, 8; R. 2: 1 Romans 11: 13- 15, 29- 32; Gospel: Matthew 15: 21- 28)
FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
THE ANSWER IS BLOWING IN THE WIND
How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
How many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
The song, “Blowing in the wind” was written by Bob Dylan in 1962. Some describe it as a protest song because of its series of rhetorical questions bordering on war, peace, and freedom. The refrain, “The answer is blowing in the wind,” is ambiguous. What does it mean for the answer to be blowing in the wind? When I ask you, “Where can I find the wind?” You will most likely tell me that the wind is all around us. When I tell you to point at the wind for me to see, you will most likely roll your eyes and wonder what I drank or smoked this morning. The ambiguity of “the answer is blowing in the wind,” lies in the fact that the answer is as obvious as the wind, yet as intangible as the wind.
The break of each day greets us with several questions: When should I get out of bed? What do I eat this morning? What cloths do I wear today? What are the appointments I have today? How much do I weigh today? What is the weather like today? The list goes on. God has so made it that there is no question that is without an answer. These answers can be obvious and at the same time intangible.
Today is our third consecutive Sunday of reflecting on the miracles of Jesus. The woman in today’s gospel passage came to Jesus seeking healing and deliverance for her daughter who was being tormented by a demon. In response, Jesus first ignored her, then Jesus told her she was outside of his job description, and then Jesus went on to “insult” her, to call her a dog. He said, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” We can turn this statement of Jesus into a question like this, “Is it right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs?
For the woman, the answer is blowing in the wind. It is as obvious as the wind, and it is as intangible as the wind. This is how she handled the question. In the Jewish culture, where Jesus is from, dogs are scavengers, they are not allowed to come into the house, they stay outside to fend for themselves, and sometimes, you have to open the door to throw food to them. But in the Greek culture, where the woman is from, dogs are pets, they are allowed in the house, and when the master and his children are eating, the dogs continue to hang around expectantly for some particles to fall on the ground. The woman saw the answer in the wind, and instead of understanding the analogy of the dog from the Jewish perspective, she decided to look at it from her Greek perspective and took advantage of it to get the healing and deliverance she wanted from Jesus for her daughter. For her, it was, “Yes, in my culture, the dog is close to the table and eats what falls from the master’s table, so, even though I am a gentile woman, I can have a share of the salvation you brought for the Jews.” Her positive attitude gave her what she wanted.
It is mostly about perspective, it is mostly about attitude. It would have been easy for her to have said, “Jesus, I only asked for a favor for my daughter and you call me a dog? Please, keep your miracle and let me keep my dignity.” When I say to you, “You are stupid,” and you become angry, it is not what I say that makes you angry, it is your decision. We may not have control over what happens to us, but we have control over how we react to what happens to us. Teilhard De Chardin is noted to have said, “Everything is holy unto the eyes that are holy.”
Life throws so many questions at us, and they all have answers. These answers are as obvious as the wind, and at the same time, they are as intangible as the wind. As we continue with the rest of this day, let us pray that God may grant to us the holy eyes of love in all our endeavors, and may the same grace change every stumbling block on our way into stepping stones leading us to the perfect answers to all our questions, through Christ our Lord. Amen.