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Lectionary Reflection

Year A, Proper 15 Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary Revised Common Lectionary Gospel

Matthew 15: 21-28 (Standard) and Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28 (RCL)

{Start RCL} [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."]

{Start Standard} 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. {End both}

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission.

Reflection on Matthew 15: 21-28 and Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28 by the Rev Wanda Copeland

It is often pointed out that the poor and the outcasts were the ones who so clearly recognized and accepted Jesus.If they had less (or nothing) to lose in the eyes of the marginalized, then Jesus' message of inclusion and welcome were easier to accept. It has always been true that those who share in the control of power have more difficulty in hearing the fullness of Jesus' words.In this passage from Matthew, Jesus is heard saying that he was sent only for certain ones. The faith of the Canaanite woman melted that barrier. And it calls all of us to receive what Jesus has to offer us. The Episcopal Collect of the Day implores: "Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life." As difficult as it may be to accept the grace of God, and the realization that Jesus' redeeming work is for us, it is perhaps more difficult to realize that accepting that awareness means living the rest of our lives as if that were true.

Daily walking in Jesus' steps means having the same reverence for that he did. And walking in his steps means that we live out of that strong sense of justice that drove Jesus all of his life. It is not enough to just ask Jesus to come to us and help fix our brokenness. We are then called to walk as he did and share our healing with others as he did.

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The Rev Wanda Copeland has been rector of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Elk River, MN; assistant rector at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, Roseville, MN; Chair of MEESC; and Chair and Acting Chair of the Episcopal Ecological Network. She originally wrote this reflection in 1999. Wanda and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to The Rev Wanda Copeland or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

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