We often use the image of a circle as a symbol of inclusivity. We speak of the circle of our family and friends, those who surround us with love and support. Circles can also be very exclusive. Their clear lines determine who is in and who is not. This imagery of the circle can be very difficult to break open in order to add new members.
Tension about such circles is at the heart of the Word of God we hear this Sunday. Isaiah tells us that God’s house is for all people. A Canaanite (non-Jewish) woman approaches Jesus and his disciples on behalf of her daughter who is in need of healing. She is pushed away. But she is persistent and insistent that Jesus can do something — and he eventually does. It is clear that she is in the circle of those who have great faith.
How inclined are you to welcome others into your social circle? Your religious circle?