From the Gospel of St. Matthew 15:21-28
Jesus left Gennesaret 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.
Joseph was the favorite child of his Father, Jacob. As a constant
reminder of his special place within his Father’s heart, Joseph
was given a long robe with sleeves. Folklore has dramatically
transformed that long sleeved robe into a Coat of Many Colors.
Jacob’s gift infuriated Joseph’s older brothers. Sacred text reads:
“…they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.” Out of
jealousy, his older brothers sold Joseph into slavery.
(The names of Joseph’s brothers are the names of the 12 tribes of Israel: Reuben,
Simeon, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Ephraim and
Hate is a tool of the Evil One.
Hate has been alive since the dawn of time.
Hate is violence and threatens humanity by creating division.
Hate is a symptom of the underlying issues. It reveals emotional
pain caused by feelings of unworthiness, aloneness or traumatic
disappointments. Until the pain is healed, hate grows like a
cancer. But God can heal hate!
In light of the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and
Barcelona, as well as other locations throughout our world,
personally I find the encounter of Jesus with the Canaanite
Woman puzzling and disturbing. While this story reveals God’s
power through Jesus to heal the evil in this world, the encounter
Was Jesus a racist? What was it about this non-Jewish woman
that set Jesus off?
Many struggle with this story.
Theologians ponder its unsettling character.
But today, we don’t need ambiguity. We crave clarity.
So, was Jesus being playful? Was he having a bad day? Was it
a full moon? Was Jesus testing the woman’s faith? Or was he
tired of playing the role of healer and, since the woman didn’t
share his religious traditions, he found a way out of that role. But
none of these excuses sound at all like Jesus.
I’m convinced, Jesus was teaching his disciples a most valuable
lesson. This story, as portrayed in the gospel of Matthew,
teaches us the ridiculousness, disgrace and evil of our prejudices,
bigotry and complacency to injustice.
While, indeed, Jesus came to minister among the lost sheep of
Israel as their Messiah, the treatment of Gentiles as dogs, and
Jewish women having only a smidge more value, are sin and
ignorance in play. That way of thinking slaps God in the face by
denouncing the goodness of God’s creation and denying God’s
connectedness with us. Jesus makes an unambiguous example
of humanity’s sin and ignorance being overcome by persistence,
hope and faith.
As followers of Jesus, we walk the path of our calling: to be
people persistent, hope-filled and driven by our faith, guided by
Jesus’ insistence to Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul,
mind and strength, and love our neighbor as our ‘self’.
The Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal
Church this past week said, “We who follow Jesus have made a
choice to walk a different way: the way of disciplined, intentional,
passionate, compassionate, mobilized, organized love intent on
creating God’s Beloved Community on earth.”
We cannot be silent. Silence is conformity. We cannot be silent
against the sins of racism, other forms of bigotry, oppression and
marginalization and the violence they generate and perpetuate.
We are to walk our path of calling with Jesus, not in silence,
rather with voice and hands-on loving deeds. Our love is to be
loud and audacious. Our love envisions God’s Beloved
Community on earth living as sisters and brothers celebrating
God’s presence, God’s love and God’s peace. God invites us to
boldly work to achieve this vision.
Sheri Faye Rosendahl is a contributor to a website entitled
Patheos: Unfundamentalist Christians. She writes: “According to Martin Luther King, Jr., finding peace does not mean avoiding the
tension of conflict, it means standing in the tension and exposing
the oppression that surrounds us. Those who call themselves
peacemakers because they don’t ‘take sides’ are anything but.
They are part of the problem, enablers of oppression and hate.
They are those who sat quietly and watched the genocide of
millions during the Holocaust.
There is a right and wrong side when it comes to hate, bigotry,
and oppression. There is a right and wrong side when it comes to
the deeply ingrained racism that floods our nation. There are not
‘many sides,’ there are two — the side of basic humanity and the
side against it.”
Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/2017/08/dont-
want-see- another-charlottesville- silence-not- option/#cccttVfcsYJxl3to.99
In a letter from the Presiding Bishop and the Rev. Gay Jennings,
President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church, we
hear the following call to action: “We follow Jesus, about whose
coming John’s Gospel said, “the light shines in the darkness, and
the darkness cannot overcome it;” And it cannot! So when the evil
one divides us from one another through darkness of racism,
bigotry and intolerance, we must witness even more steadfastly to
the light, the power of the risen Christ to overcome hatred, cease
division, and bind us all even more closely to one another.”
As a priest in Christ’s Church, I must tell it as it is. I realize that as
an educated, white male who does not wear my sexual-
orientation on my sleeve, I am a person of privilege in our society.
Conversation about white privilege, racism, other bigotries,
prejudices, oppression and marginalization is often very
Yet, as followers of Jesus, we must have the conversations. We
need to look at the realities that face many people who are not
privileged. We must not be silent.
The Diocese offers us a tool for this conversation through the Big
Exodus Read, and we will be offering other means for
encouraging conversation and action here at St. Paul’s in the near
This week I’ve read a good number of articles written after last
week’s alarming events. My words cannot, nor are they intended
to, compete with the thoughtfulness and inspiration that has
already been shared by passionate, loving people.
What comes to my mind are the words made by a character in the
incredible movie-musical Hairspray. I adore this adaptation of
John Waters’ original screenplay. This fun and energizing movie-
musical speaks volumes to the issues facing us today.
When her son shows an interest in a white girl, Queen Latifa’s
character, Miss Motor-Mouth Mabel addresses both of them,
saying: “You better brace yourself for a whole lot of ugly coming
at you from a never-ending parade of stupid.”
You and I must work to give a total beauty make-over to the ugly,
and stop the stupid in our world. We’ve got to boldly voice the
truth of our Jesus-centered faith that all people are God’s
precious children; they are all our neighbors, and we’re
commanded to love them all, as Jesus loves us.
I end with a prayer from our Book of Common Prayer:
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move
every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this
land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions
disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we
may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen. (BCP page 823)