I am still debating my choices of scriptures to preach this week-the Gospel lesson about the Canaanite woman, Isaiah and the covenant extending beyond the normal boundries to eunuchs, or Joseph meeting his brothers in Egypt. They are all painfully relavent this week in a world of broken covenants, elusive truces and alienated people. Here is a quote from a sermon I preached in 2005 entitled “Overlooked and Underconsidered” to ponder:
Everything seems to be working against this woman-gender, race, religion, class and nationalism-to find help for her daughter. It must have been quite the spectacle to have her throw herself at the feet of Jesus. Disciples and spectators alike must have been embarrassed to have her there. She must have been driven by desperation. Maybe now we can better understand Christ’s original negative response, when he says, “Let the children be fed first (referring to Jews) for it is not fair to give the children’s bread to the dogs.” There is no getting around the fact that Jesus has just “dissed” her. Jews considered dogs to be scavengers and unclean animals. Every reference to dogs in the Bible is negative (much to the despair of dog lovers like me!).
For a moment she is turned away by a great spiritual leader, which to many would feel like they were being turned away by God. That’s why it is so hard when our feelings get hurt in church. We expect to experience the sacred grace of God when we come to church or approach a minister, and if we are hurt or overlooked for the moment, then it effects our core spirit. Where else will we find the sacred in our lives? This is what disturbs us in this Gospel Lesson. How could Jesus compare anyone to a dog or say a thing like that? This story hits us in a place of fear that maybe God finds us to be really annoying. We don’t belong, we don’t deserve the bread, others are more important.