Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost:
August 16, 2020
First Reading: Genesis 45:1-15
Second Reading: Romans 11:1-2a, 29-28
Gospel: Matthew 15:10-20,21-28
Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, now and forever. Amen
Great is your Faith
Gospel: Matthew 15:10-20,21-28
In the first part of the Gospel, Jesus, once again, is challenged by the Pharisees and Scribes about the laws and the boundaries of staying clean and the differences of clean and unclean.
Laws that perhaps are made by man, not the laws of God. What defiles a person, makes unclean, and therefore unable to participate in worship in the Temple.
Jesus “says” to the disciples and crowds around him.
“Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”
The Disciples approached him “you know Jesus”; the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you had said!
Jesus, is even more upset with his disciples, “Are you also still without understanding?
“Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart comes evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander…. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.
Jesus is referring to the 10 commandments, the laws of God.
Jesus has crossed boundaries with the elders as many times before, He is about to cross over another boundary.
Jesus has now left that place, he and his disciples have just crossed over into the district of Tyre and Sidon, Phoenicia, part of the Roman province of Syria.
Jesus is confronted by a Canaanite woman from that region, “She came out and started shouting.
“Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.”
This territory, boundary, Jesus is in, is a non-Jewish area, “They don’t belong there” and this is a Gentile woman.
Why would they be here? In the Gospel of Matthew 10:5 a few scriptures back, Jesus says
“These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans.
Never the less, this is where Jesus goes with his disciples crossing boundaries and when he is first confronted by the Gentile women, he keeps walking because his focus in on the what he and who he feels he was sent for. “He answers her, “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.
It appears Jesus is a little cruel to this woman, when he just kept walking away from her, and tells her he is there only for the people of children of Israel. But she is persistent and she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”
This woman first says, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David. And then she came and knelt before him, Saying, “Lord, help me.”
Even though the woman is not Jewish, she addresses Jesus as the Jewish messiah and because of her “Great Faith” she and her daughter had been healed.
She knelt before him, this is very significant and a sign of a king before her. She is not the only Gentile to kneel before Jesus, the Magi, who are also Gentiles, are the first to offer worship to Jesus in the way.
This Gentile women recognized that Jesus was the messiah before the people of Israel did, those that he was there to save.
Boundaries, boundaries and more boundaries, they are all over the place today and then.
We have had boundaries since we could understand our parents. You can’t cross the street! No, you cannot stay up late on a school night. You can’t stay out after dark; you have to be in the house.
In our life today, we all face challenges everyday with boundaries. Stay home, close your business, follow these laws and mandates, suggestions from leaders, CDC, health officials, National, State and Local leaders. We all have guidelines on what to do and what not to do.
Still people cross boundaries and refuse to wear a mask in public. They refuse to go down and aisle one way at a store and to stay 6 to 10 feet away from someone. They will attend beach parties, house parties and large group gatherings.
I believe most everyone wants to follow the Boundaries today.
Jesus is not just hope for Israel, but hope for the world. Was this the beginning of why Jesus Christ was sent into the world? To go into regions, he was not accepted in?
He has crossed boundaries, possibly to help us realize today, we can all live together in a world where God loves each and every one of us. We might have to go into areas where we are not accepted to spread the Good News of God’s kingdom and our salvation in all the world, this, regardless of our race.
In the Gospel lesson we are reminded about what we need to hold in our hearts, that if our hearts are filled with God’s love and filled with hope and joy, what ever comes from our mouth will be coming from our hearts.
In the world we are living in I can’t think of a more important period of time to have a “Great Faith”. I feel we need to get down on our knees, in front of our Lord, and ask him to help us. We need to pray not only for ourselves, but for our nation, our cities and communities.
Pray for an end to the pandemic and the discovery of an effective cure.
Pray that God will help us hold our church together in these times that we are separated from each other. Ask for his mercy and grace to help us all. To be patient with each other. To continue to love one another. To know that each one of us was created in God’s image and we are uniquely made.
Being isolated and at home for 5 months should have taught us something about faith and patience.
We are living out our faith and we are being tested through trials and our faith should grow into the a “Great Faith” it invites us to Him; empowering us to seek Him in every situation; and for us to trust Him always.
Rev. Lola Culbreath