Wow. This is a strange Gospel. A challenging Gospel. We can be left with the question – what the? Why does Jesus respond to this woman who acknowledges him as the Lord and Son of David with such indifference and hostility? How would you feel if you brought a loved-one before Jesus who you knew was your only hope and he responded in this way?
Maybe you have actually felt like this in prayer at times? Maybe you feel that you have been faithful to God and you have brought your deepest need to God and he ignored you or worse – rebuffed you?
This gospel should leave us feeling uncomfortable and uneasy. And that is okay.
We can get some deeper context by understanding the broader narrative context of the Hebrew Scriptures. Yes, God created all people to be image-bearers for God and to mirror God’s goodness into all creation. But God also chose to choose one particular family to become the centre of a new people of God – the people of Israel. Abraham is called to create a new kind of people who would represent God within the whole world. And in the ministry of Jesus, he follows the first prophet and leader Moses who first called the tribe and nation of Israel to freedom to worship and serve God. So Jesus also ministers first to his own people before extending that mission to all nations – see the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.
When we feel overwhelmed by life, may we see in this foreign woman a sign and example of someone who demonstrates great faith (in contrast to the little faith of Peter that we saw on the lake last Sunday) and stands up for the one she loves and receives the gift of healing for her daughter immediately.
Sunday 20A. Matthew 15:21-28