Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jesus Heals & is Healed

Reflection by Rev Dr Durrell Watkins

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. 

Matthew may be confronting his community’s prejudices by imagining Jesus overcoming a prejudice within himself. Deuteronomy 20.17 says, “Completely destroy…the Canaanites…as God has commanded you.” A literal reading of the ancient text could have given Matthew’s community tacit permission to hate or exclude or vilify Canaanites, but when a Canaanite woman comes to Jesus for help, he first sees her as “the Other”, one he had been taught to look down on (like a “dog”), but as she stands up for herself, Jesus finally sees her humanity, and realizes that she is fully a child of God.
Then he blesses her by healing her daughter, but he is healed of his own bigotry as well. And hopefully, those who read the text will find healing from some of their own prejudices as well.

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