From the Desk of Pastor Brian
Have you ever felt ignored, and not feeling heard in a group of people even when you have something important to say? It’s frustrating isn’t it? The Gospel for this Sunday is troubling for many because Jesus seems to be ignoring the pleas of the Canaanite woman who came asking Jesus to heal her daughter. “He did not answer her at all;” Matthew 15: 23. This portrayal of Jesus seems very unfamiliar and may cause one to feel uncomfortable. Maybe this scene between Jesus and the Canaanite woman has been played out in various ways on the sidewalks of our neighborhoods and the streets of this great country. This is a very familiar scene that happens over and over again as those in need are ignored and people are ridiculed because of their ethnicity and situation in life.
We are not used to the Jesus we read about in Matthew 15: 21-28, at least the beginning of this text. The last verses of this text show us the Jesus that we like and want to hear. In verse 28 Jesus finally responds to this woman saying, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” This very persistent and dedicated mother waited patiently for what she wanted for her daughter needed.
Maybe there have been times when you have felt like the woman in this reading, ignored and outcast. Maybe there are times when you have seen others ignored or treated poorly because of where they are from and because of their circumstances. Sometimes it is easy to see the poor and think they just need to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and then life will be better for them. The sad thing is most people in this situation don’t have “bootstraps” to pull up or even shoes to protect their feet.
Jesus appears to ignore the pleas of this woman, but it seems to also be a teaching moment for the disciples and us. Jesus came to help the “lost sheep” find their way, without restrictions or conditions. Those who seem to be the lost or unworthy may have more to offer than realized. The mother, who was a foreigner risked everything to save her daughter, even her life. How great is her faith and how wonderful is the grace of God shown to her and us by Jesus. As disciples of the risen Christ we are called to receive and show unconditional grace to those we encounter each day!
The Rev. Dr. Brian K. Oltman
Resurrection Lutheran Church – 1111 Fifth Street – Coronado, CA – www.rl.church