Gospel for Aug. 21, 2011
Matthew 15:[10–20] 21–28
Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, “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.” Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” Then he said, “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 come 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 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.
A message from God.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that they are looking for, waiting for, or received a “message from God”. Usually this is in reference to a change or decision in life–job, relationship, direction. It is easy for us to hear the words of Jesus as a message from God–calling us to a deeper and more radical faith than concern for what we eat, drink, listen to, or wear or how we do our hair. That’s a message from God I am eager to tune into.
But messages from God don’t always come from the places and people we expect. In the second part of our message of Good News it is an enemy, pagan, foreign woman who has a message for all of us. HER message is also not always welcome. With her presence and her words she claims God’s favor not just for the Jew, the Christian, but for all (for Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian Scientist, Mormon, atheist, Republican, Democrat, Tea Party, poor and rich . . .) In the words of Jesus, “Great is her faith”. Her faith in God is so great it goes beyond the labels and names we give ourselves and others. So when we’re looking for a word or message from God, be prepared. We might not like what we hear or from whom we hear it.