Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pentecost 14

Readings: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Psalm 67; Romans 11:1-2a, 13-15, 28-32; and Matthew 15:21-28 (sermon text; DP has an interesting discussion here).
Jesus says and does confusing (to us, at least) things. This story is perhaps the hardest for us, but the best for us Gentiles.

Context: chapter 15 begins with the Pharisees and scribes following Jesus not to learn but to criticize. They looked only at the outside; the real problem is the heart. So Jesus departed, physically and metaphorically, from them. Tyre and Sidon were outside ancient Israel's borders. Canaanites, the inhabitants, were outsiders. So the woman in the text rejected centuries of culture and idols, begging Christ for mercy - healing in exchange for nothing.

But Jesus ignored her! The disciples were less than merciful. Aside, He seemed to cross the line of rudeness. She persisted. He tested her faith (Jews called Gentiles "dogs"). She entreated Him again, being willing to receive whatever He gave. Seeing her faith, He healed her daughter (the other time He commended someone's faith was in the instance of the Roman centurion; this aptly demonstrates Matthew 28:19).

This story tells of faith - empty, humble believers who receive God's gifts. We should fear Satan and his demons, as did the woman, for he wants to separate us from Christ. Likewise, we should believe that Jesus can and does rescue us from all this. Remember also your heritage: Jesus fulfilled the promises prophesied. By Baptism we are heirs of Abraham's promises, given by God. God incarnate is our Lord and Christ! See that you are empty; receive even the crumbs from the Master's table. He will give you much, much more (vide the feeding of the 5000 + women + children with 12 baskets of crumbs left over): a full meal of life! Christ is all when we are nothing. Only He remains.

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