The lectionary readings for today are as follows: Isaiah 56. 1, 6-8, Psalm 67, Romans 11. 1-2a, 29-32, and finally the reading I will be looking at today. Mathew 15. (10-20), 21-28
Mathew 15. (10-20), 21-28
“At first glance the two sections of this passage seem unconnected. But read together, the second story (from v.21) takes on a different hue. It all starts with the Pharisees criticising Jesus’ followers over their hygiene (v.2), to which Jesus replies that what makes people unclean does not come from what they put into their mouths, but from what is in their hearts. His disciples tell him that he has upset the Pharisees with this answer, and he tells them that he does not care – because they are blind guides. When Peter asks Jesus to explain the parable, its unclear what he is referring to – is it verse 11 or 14? Jesus explains his saying about food, and goes on to say that people demonstrate they are unclean by what they say and how they treat other people.”
This tells me that quite often we listen, we hear but we don’t understand, one of the many reasons for carrying out Bible Study is to attempt to dig deep and by doing so understand, when moved from the Vine Ilford in the mid-sixties I was a very young Junior Church assistant, I had I thought covered all bases – I had listened to all those that taught me about the Bible, but how wrong I was our head of Junior Church at the time showed me other ways of reflecting on our Bible stories it was a major thing for me it I think set me on the correct path, over the following years there have been many who guided me on the path of understanding.
“The story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman shares the thematic link of food and belonging. Indeed, the whole of chapter 15 can be seen as a collection of stories that have to do with the basis of inclusion in God’s people.
So, a Canaanite – and we might recall that there are two such women, Rahab and Tamar, in Jesus’ family tree (Matthew 1.3-4) – seeks healing for her daughter. Jesus is silent. But the woman must have persisted because his disciples implore Jesus to send her away because of her incessant shouting. Jesus tells her he has come only for those born in the house of Israel – perhaps one of the disciples had suggested that if Jesus did what she wanted, she’d leave them alone. But she persists, kneeling before him, imploring him to help. Jesus reiterates his previous answer, injecting it with typical Jewish anti-Gentile invective – ‘dogs’ – suggesting that what is meant for Israel should not be given to outsiders.
Generally, use of the term ‘dogs’ in the Old Testament is a derogatory one, a metaphor for people who are beyond the pale. It sounds like a final rejection of the woman’s request. Yet, it could be seen as a proverbial saying that offers an invitation to respond. And this the woman does, giving as good as she gets, concluding the proverbial statement by suggesting that the children, of course, are fed first – but the house dogs then get their share.”
Do we sometimes disapprove of someone because of the way they look or sound, do we pigeonhole people by their appearance even by their accent, and are we as fair minded as we should be, especially in the times we are living through. How do we feel about the person refusing for instance to wear a face mask, to not maintain social distancing. We have to always attempt to understand but as with the disciples sometimes it’s very hard.
“Jesus is amazed. Peter, listening to this, was told a short time ago that he was a man of little faith; now he hears Jesus saying that this woman has great faith. The contrast is obvious, and not just with Peter but also with the leaders of the house of Israel (15.1-9). Although Jesus has primarily come as Israel’s Messiah, his ultimate goal is to reach the nations with his saving grace.”