Looking Forward to Sunday: Daring Faith

Rev. Daniel Eggold

Aug 9, 2020

Readings:

Isaiah 56:1, 6–8; Psalm 67; Romans 11:1–2a, 13–15, 28–32; Matthew 15:21–28

In medieval fashion, the single page illustration in Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, the 1415 Book of Hours of John, Duke of Berry, shows several parts of the story. The daughter is home sick in bed; Jesus is not heeding the woman’s plea; and finally Jesus is blessing the woman for her faith.

     Jesus had every reason to not associate with her: she was a woman, a non-Jew, an outcast. Yet she makes a scene, shouting and asking Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus ignores her and tells her that his mission is to the lost sheep in Israel. Then he makes an outrageous slur, referring to non-Jews as dogs. Though such a statement is shocking to us, it reflects the ingrained cultural attitudes of that day.

     The woman does not give up. She reminds Jesus that even the dogs eat the crumbs from under their master's table. This woman is the only person in the gospels who seems to take on Jesus and win. Usually,in Matthew's gospel, the disciples are described as having little faith, but this woman is said to have great faith.

     This story is meant to shock us--not only the audacity of the Canaanite woman but also the fact that Jesus grants her request. By doing so, Jesus violates the social order and religious teachings of his day. As today's first lesson clarifies, the Lord's house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples.

     We continue to use religion to justify our prejudices, yet God's kingdom is filled with surprising reversals.In Holy Baptism, God declares that no one is an outsider. At the Lord's Altar,all are welcomed and embraced by God's merciful love.

     It is humbling to realize that,though we are created in God's image, we cannot create God in the image of ourselves. God's forgiveness extends beyond human understanding or ability. God forgives us even when we fail to be welcoming and accepting of others. And so we throw ourselves on the mercy of God, and pray for the liberating,transforming, and healing love that comes from God alone.

Prayer

God of all peoples, your arms reach out to embrace all those who call upon you. Teach us as disciples of your Son to love the world with compassion and constancy, that your name may be known throughout the earth, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.