Proper 15 Matthew 15: 21-28

This has always been a hard  Gospel text for me to read. Yet it reminds me that Our Lord Jesus was human as well as being Divine. As does all of humanity , perhaps God the Father used this Canaanite woman for Jesus’ ” teachable moment. ”

Let’s take a look at the text appointed for today:

“Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly”

The title of this text could be _ Nevertheless She Persisted_ Even though Jesus and His disciples appear to ignore this woman’s plea for healing; that did not stop her from asking again. She knew that as a woman, and a Canaanite she wasn’t supposed to talk to Jewish men. Yet somehow she knew that this Jewish man was no ordinary human.  She says

Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David.

In spite of her status as a woman  from a different social, cultural, and religious group than this Jewish rabbi ; she felt the need to beg him to heal her sick child.

After Jesus tells her that He was only sent to save “the lost sheep of Israel” , and by doing so seems to be rather racist, the woman begs him again.

“Lord help me”

Again, she begs Him for His help.

“…help me. “

When Jesus replies that it isn’t right to take His children’s  ‘ food’ and through it to ‘dogs”{ in that time and place it was an insult to refer to a human as a dog} the woman makes one last plea for help. She says “…even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.

Here  Jesus’ attitude seems to do a double take.

He says: “Woman, great is your faith. Let it be done for you as you wish.”

If Jesus’ attitude concerning  ‘the other’ needed an adjustment, think about this story in light of what is happening now in our nation and world. Perhaps this is not only a teachable moment for Jesus and His disciples, but a teachable moment for you and me? We know we are comfortable among people who are the most like us; so how do we act when someone who does not fit our demographic reaches out?

Fearing others who look, act, love, or believe differently than we do leads to hatred. Hatred often leads to violence. As long as one group of humans fears other groups of humans, there will be no true peace in the world. Perhaps this was the moment when Jesus  realized His true mission? If so, perhaps it is our Christian duty to continue Christ’s mission of bringing peace, love and acceptance for ALL humanity?

Jesus had a change of heart, and we can thank the persistent Canaanite woman for opening His heart to His other sheep.

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit . Amen