We’ve all done it in our student days – or held our breath as others have been foolhardy enough to attempt it – correcting the teacher. We learned a lot from how the teacher responded, particularly when the student was actually right.
Adolescent joy abounded if the teacher blustered and blundered and obfuscated around his error. Power had momentarily transferred from the master to the great unwashed!
Respect and awe occurred when the teacher owned the mistake and thanked and praised the student for their astuteness. We gladly ceded deserved authority.
We see something like that happening on a deeper and broader scale in today’s lection from the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus, seemingly beholden to his identity as Jewish Messiah with restricted scope, almost dismisses the Canaanite woman seeking his help.
She is persistent and bold – a real tiger mum (John Shea). Matthew means us to keep our attention focused on her as she turns out to be the real teacher in this instance. It seems that the end result is the expansion of Jesus’ own self awareness, expressed in his awed response at the wit and singlemindedness of the woman considered by all present to be an “outsider” who has claimed her place within.
The best teachers have always been those who are open to correction.