Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28 Intentions from the heart
Then he 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 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.
The mother is unwelcomed – a Gentile who has a child with a serious illness, which has likely brought shame to the family. She faces a group of men and a revered charismatic preacher alone, during the day, putting herself at risk of being seen as a woman of ill repute. She humbles herself before Jesus.
Yet, her actions make her intentions clear. She knows Jesus can, and will, heal her daughter. She will take the risk of danger, rebuke, shaming, humiliation, potential rejection and even accept the condemnatory ‘mantle’ of a dog. Her faith is so strong and her love for her daughter unwavering. She will risk all, for even a ‘crumb’ of just and compassionate assistance, because she believes in a loving God through the presence of Jesus. Her Courage and living faith in action, indeed.
Jesus explains that our intention, from out of the heart, is even greater than our religious practices, as they truly reveal who we really are. He raises that before the Pharisees. The woman lives it out, at great cost as she over-rides the societal boundaries of the day.
What does our attitude show?
What do we really say by how we act?
Our ‘living faith’ and our intentions are revealed everyday
through our loving and being, and our thinking and doing.
Fill our hearts with love for those who are unloved.
Let your flame of fiery presence melt the hearts chilled with fear and distrust.
Sprout new seeds of hope in the desert places of dusty souls.
Cool the fierce hate that scars thoughts of the powerful.
Fill empty vessels of self-worth with purpose to serve victims and the vulnerable.
Voice the silent cries of those who are spent, and can no longer manage alone.
Silence prayer for others…
Healing Spirit, hear our prayers.
Healing Spirit, we lift them up to you.
Commissioning and Benediction
God is calling you
To cast aside your shallow ways,
To take to heart the teachings of your faith
And hold them deep in your soul.
There, they will be nurtured
so that all that springs forth from your mouth
and is accomplished by your hands,
will reflect the glory of our God.
God is with you.
The Spirit advocates for you.
Brother Jesus walks alongside.
Come, People of God
Let us walk forth in peace, with good intention in all that we do. Amen
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