August 20th, 2023 – Pastor Elizabeth

12 Pentecost Year A August 17,18

Matthew 15:21-28 

Romans 11:1-32 

The Face of Love 

Let us pray. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN. 

A slap on the face. A kick in the pants someone is already down. A shocking insult that proves that names can hurt as much as sticks and stones. That can’t be Jesus. The Jesus we know would never treat a person like the man in today’s gospel treats the Canaanite woman. It’s unbelievable. 

Today’s gospel is not an easy one. don’t like the image of Jesus we see. Jesus is supposed to care about everyone, right? Yet, in this story the Canaanite woman comes and begs Jesus to help her tormented daughter and to  do with at first he turns her away. He answers, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” implying that he wants nothing foreigners. There is a single-mindedness about his mission to his own people. When the woman is persistant and asks again, the response of Jesus seems like a cruel slap in the face: it isn’t fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” What an insult! Nobody wants to be called a dog. 

We can’t imagine Jesus treating anyone so rudely. So we make excuses for him. One day in the hallway of the Parish Education building I ran into a group of women after circle. They Were studying the same passage I’m talking about today and they told me that their group had really struggled with it. They couldn’t understand how Jesus could be so cruel. Their natural instinct Was to defend him. Jesus certainly couldn’t have meant those hurtful & he? Did Matthew misquote him?(although the story is almost the same in Mark) Or was Jesus trying to test that woman’s faith?(there must have been a method to his madness) 

My first reaction to this story is the same as the women in that circle, to stick up for Jesus and make excuses for him or to even ignore that passage altogether, but I realize that it is a story that speaks to people’s very real experiences of God. If we were to be honest with ourselves, 

or the 

Cure that you hope 


just isn’t 

there. No amount that loved one who 



can bring back 



restore you to 

perfect health 


instantly solve that 

when you 

problem. Or perhaps there are times 

feel judged or unaccepted by other people even 



church, deserving of their attention (and implication, not quite deserving 



aren’t quite 





As long as we live in this world there 



will be times when the face of God is hidden, when God works in ways that understand, ways that even seem harsh to us because we don’t see those moments we share the experience 



can probably all times when we have felt like this Canaanite woman. Maybe 


have prayed and prayed about some burden and it feels like God 



has turned away from you, the answer you want 



picture. In 

of the 

Canaanite woman who speaks to Jesus and feels isn’t listening 


gets put 

off until another time. The woman saw only judgement,