10 after Trinity

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Readings

Isaiah 56.1,6-8
Romans 11.1-2a,29-32
Matthew 15.[10-20]21-28

Sermon

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, tiny though she was, when she was alive, arguably wielded the most power of any living person. This was done through humble service  of the most destitute and rejected.  In an interview, she  once said, "I am but a little pencil in the hand of God as he writes his love letter upon the world!" what a fantastic image that is. Though we know the definition of love, it may be difficult to comprehend the power  of God’s love compelling people to a life of dedicated selfless service. Love – the motivation for action

In today's Gospel, we hear the words, "Lord help me." I wonder how many of us have glibly used those words? The Canaanite woman has complete faith in the ability of Jesus to heal her daughter. Though a Gentile, she calls Jesus “Lord, son of David”, acknowledging Jesus' lineage. His disciples urge Jesus not to respond, telling him to send her away. He then answers, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." This put down may have sent most people scurrying away with disappointment, anger, and an unwillingness to try again. However, not this Canaanite mother. She is determined to get help for her daughter. This mother is no different from many contemporary parents who want something better for their child. I know where I come in my wife’s pecking order – just below the dog. A choice between me and the children – Kids every time. (And they are grown up).

I read a story from the USA which illustrates what I’m trying to say. Certain parents encouraged their daughter to attend a week long Diocesan summer camp. The daughter was 18 years old, suffered from severe heart deformities and wanted so desperately to be "just like everyone else". It had been extremely difficult for the parents to let her out of their sight, because, the doctors had said she had very little time left to live. When the girl arrived at camp. She could only walk  a few steps without being completely exhausted. The terrain made it impossible to use a wheelchair. but the girls in her cabin solved the problem by two of them at a time forming a "chair" by linking their arms together and carrying her from place to place. It was done with genuine caring, a great deal of laughter, with all the girls doing their bit. Rather than the experience becoming a  burden, it became a ministry to one in the community. Nobody was willing for this particular person to be left out of anything! She was the recipient of parental love willing to take a risk by letting their daughter go. The campers experienced selfless love because they willingly embraced her needs and unselfishly saw to them. The result for everyone was a deepening of what it means to "love one another ..". Those young people who ministered to one in need were indeed little pencils through whom God wrote His love letter upon that gathered community.

Back to the Gospel. The mother simply will not be put off by the seemingly derogatory comment, She is convinced that only Jesus, Son of David, can help her daughter. You can almost visualize her standing face-to-face with Jesus

Though a Canaanite, - a Gentile, this so-called unbeliever obviously had faith. She was undeterred and  willing to stand before Jesus to make her request, Furthermore, she was driven to her knees as she humbled herself, kneeling before him petitioning for help. "Lord, help me." Such is her faith she understood who Jesus was and what he alone could do.

She professed Jesus as Lord, by boldly proclaiming her request that he alone can be of help. Although a Cannanite and despised - the confession with which she addresses Jesus, "Lord, Son of David," marks her as being at the forefront of Gentile believers. Her boldness sets her aside, from those who may have followed Jesus out of mere curiosity. This woman is determined to seek help, even at the cost of being called a dog. She doesn’t know if the disciples will drag her away, but no doubt she would have put up a fight if had they tried. She was totally focused on Jesus.

As I read this passage I am reminded that Jesus wasn’t an ordinary physician dispensing wonder drugs, but someone who required a relationship based on faith for healing. It was true for this mother and is true for us.

And the passage shows us Love, as the motivator for action, bringing, in this case a mother to seek Jesus with the potential rejection of his followers and perhaps even Jesus himself. This mother took a risk for her child. She is bold in pursuing Jesus on behalf of her daughter. Her faith makes it possible for change to occur. The mother in Scripture and the mother of the camper were both motivated by love and by the desire for a better life for their child.

"Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly.

He makes all things possible, as he loves us, is with us, near us, and in us.

"Lord, help me."

Questions for Reflection

Are you focused on Jesus? How great is your faith?
What might Jesus do for you? How might you respond to Jesus?
Are you willing to be a pencil in the hand of God?


Page last updated: 15th September 2020 9:46 AM
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