The story about Jesus and the Canaanite woman prompted me to reflect on the history between the Israelites and the Canaanites. That reflection led me to seeing a parallel with the relations between settlers and indigenous peoples in North America and elsewhere.
The Canaanites lived in Canaan/Palestine for hundreds to thousands of years before the Israelites appeared, and they were regarded as an obstacle to be removed to make room for the Israelites, and then the Philistines, Greeks, Romans and many others. In spite of that, they persisted, and frequently the Israelite settlers drifted from their Yahweh cult to using Canaanite religious practices. The indigenous peoples, mostly, persisted, and today many of the settlers are choosing clumsy versions of indigenous religious practices. The land has a way of influencing how we live and what we believe.
The Canaanites were pushed to the margins, and, until recently, indigenous people have been pushed to the margins. The Israelites/Jews did not see the Canaanites as really being people, as shown by the words Jesus used (the Greek word Jesus used means female dog), and many of the settler generations do not see the indigenous people are really being people. Evidence for this is shown by Justin Trudeau as his government continues to resist Cindy Blackstock’s lawsuit requiring the Federal government to provide the same resources for indigenous children as are provided for non-indigenous children. His children are worth the taxpayer paying for one or two nannies, but the children on a reserve do not deserve equal support for their education or social services. Other evidence is the three Calgary Police officers who viciously assaulted a Cree man as he laid on the ground. If you listen carefully to what people say, you will find evidence that many of the people you know or meet do not see indigenous people as being real people. To see them as real people is to confront the reality of the moral crimes our ancestors committed in taking away control of the land. Even the land on reserves was controlled by Indian agents.
Canadians tend to be smug when looking at racial issues in the United States. We have no right to be smug. While apologies have been made for the treatment of indigenous children and Japanese people and Chinese people, we still have racial and ethnic issues with brown people, Jewish people, Sikhs, Muslims and others, and a long journey to reach atonement and reconciliation with indigenous people.
Until we fully commit to all people, regardless of racial, religious, sexual or other factors, being honoured and treasured members of our spiritual family as children of God, we will not experience fully the peace and abundance promised by Jesus. The best our lives can be is like the dimmed sunlight we experienced during the eclipse compared to the light and warmth offered to us. The journey to there is not easy, and the story from Matthew reminds us that it was not even an easy journey for Jesus. As he walks with us on our journey, this knowledge assures us that he understands well our struggles on this journey. Go with love and hope, finding joy in each of our successes, learning in our failures, as we join hands in “building the land that God has planned, where love shines through.”