(Please excuse the rough writing. I’m trying to find my blogging voice again.)

Matthew 15:21-28

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.

When Jesus met that Canaanite woman… that’s the only time scripture records him ever losing an argument. 

This means something.


He lost that argument because he was dealing with that thoroughly human side of his persona that can’t seem to think that God’s ministry, love, and grace should be extended to those outside MY group. That perspective is entirely human. But that woman in a patriarchal society, that Canaanite in a Jewish Christian story, that daughter who was ill and not a son, that nameless person, that marginalized woman and her stricken daughter taught Jesus something. 

It’s godly to heed the wisdom of the marginalized and to abandon the arrogance of exclusivism. Compassion and kindness trumps theology and doctrine. 

I’m fascinated by that story because it shows that even Jesus had to stretch his understanding of who he was and who his ministry was aimed at. What’s remarkable was that after he was challenged and out-hustled by the Canaanite woman, he relented. He understood. She took his metaphor and ran with it. He didn’t try to justify himself. He didn’t try to ignore her anymore. He yielded. 

He yielded to the truth. His perspective was short-sighted. 

Some of us won’t yield to the challenge and do what Jesus did. He learned that even he could learn something new and right and holistic. 

I wish I could say the same about some of us. 

But from what it appears to be… I guess the Canaanite daughter will have to suffer from preexisting conditions. I guess immigrant fams should be split up because we are only concerned with the “lost house of America.” That’s essentially what Jesus said: “I came back to make Israel Great Again.” I guess it’s okay for Jordan Edwards to get shot cuz he ain’t my kid…. and that’s not MY issue… I don’t have to be worried about the treatment of Muslims and Islamophobia because I’m Christian…

This isn’t a soapbox. It’s a lament.

Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of Heaven…” only those who yield to the challenge…

Let’s ask ourselves and answer truthfully: who are the Canaanite women in our midst? Who are those who are the lowest of the low? Who are our homeboys and homegirls saying “send them away”? Who are those that we are trained to see as so outside of grace, mercy, love, and justice that we think we are justified to call them “dogs” and declare that we are right to turn our backs on them?

This is where the extraordinary and the mundane collide. 

When the Canaanite woman turns the tables on us, when she shows us that she is wiser than us, that her need is worthy of our attention, that our perspective is shortsighted, and that we don’t understand God’s grace or compassion as well as we’d like… in that moment, will we yield to the mundane and be opened to the extraordinary?

Or will we legislate, justify, and strongarm our spiritual shortsightedness into existence and create a living hell for others, so long as our house is “saved”? 

Yes, the mundane reveals the extraordinary and the extraordinary reveals the mundane. 

There are those who believe in God but don’t trust grace. There are those who do not believe that there is enough for everybody. Simply stated, faith becomes avarice. 

But sharing bread is sharing God, and sharing God is sharing bread. And withholding bread is withholding God and withholding God is withholding bread. And listening to the Canaanite is listening to God–though you are anointed and chosen–and listening to God is listening to the Canaanite–so that you can understand what being “anointed and chosen” really means. 

May the extraordinary ever collide with the mundane and back again. 

Faith, hope, and love…

©2017 M J Sales

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