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Summary: This is a very disturbing story where a woman, at her wits end, was actually ignored by Jesus, who favoured the Jews. Why? God ticks Jesus off here. Did Jesus sin here? It certainly needs investigation.

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Genesis 45:1-15 Psalm 133 Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 Matthew 15: 10-28

Summary: This is a very disturbing story where a woman, at her wits end, was actually ignored by Jesus, who favoured the Jews. Why? God ticks Jesus off here. Did Jesus sin here? It certainly needs investigation.

This sermon was delivered to the congregation in St Oswald’s, in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 28th August 2011. (A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries)

Prayer: I the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, let these words speak for you, Amen.

Today’s Gospel reading is taken from Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28.

Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, "Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles." Then the disciples approached and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?" He answered, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit." But Peter said to him, "Explain this parable to us." Then he said, "Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile."

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.

We have just heard a very disturbing story in the gospel this morning where a woman at her wits end, because of her demon possessed daughter; was actually ignored by Jesus in favour of God’s chosen people, the Jews. This therefore needs some serious investigation.

Is there anyone in your life who is so inconsequential that they are beyond helping? This is a tough question, and I think it needs to be answered, if not openly, answer it quietly within yourself. Is there anyone one to whom you would stay well clear off? No. let us clear things up a bit.

When Jesus was confronted by this woman, He responded in a way that is most uncharacteristic, it is not like any response has made in the past; in fact, his response is in direct opposition to his teachings. Ok Jesus can be a bit severe sometimes, but the results are always worth the severity as he always heals, delivers and restores; yet not in this case.

Let us look at the background and set the scene. Jesus and his disciples had just survived the storm on the Sea of Galilee. When landing on the shore, Jesus came into disagreement and conflict with the Pharisees who were always out to discredit Him; so Jesus and the disciples left the ever-growing crowds in Galilee, and went off into the land of the Gentiles, the land of Canaan, for a bit of respite; and for a space in which to breathe and regroup.

Here there they could be away from all of the so called “faithful Jews” who gave them no rest or peace; either wanting or demanding miracles; or for calling Jesus out for failing to live by the letter of the Law or trick him into saying something in which he could be held accountable.

The land of Canaan was founded by Noah’s son Ham and do you remember Him? Ham was one of Noah’s three sons, the one who was ostracized by his own family after he "saw" Noah drunk and naked one night.

This is quite a complex story, (a story of sexual depravity), but it ended with Noah cursing Ham so much so that Ham changed his name to Canaan and moved away, but Noah followed him and vowed that Canaan and his descendants would always be slaves to the descendents of his brothers.

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