Sunday, October 30, 2016

2016-10-30 [Month of Mission 2016] 30. Crumbs & Exclusion

30. Crumbs & Exclusion

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession."
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."
24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."
25 The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.
26 He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."
27 "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."
28 Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.      (Matthew15:21-28)
When I thought of poverty, I imagined people at traffic lights begging for money or people destitute living under bridges. My theory on poverty as a minister and as the church was that we are called to work with the poor but also with the understanding that this problem would never go away. Verses where Jesus and the woman who poured perfume on his feet came to mind, when the disciples say to Jesus that perfume could have been sold and the money used to help the poor, Jesus replies and says you will always have the poor. 2 years ago I was asked to represent the denomination on a journey with CWM, which was looking at the eradication of poverty. Note it didn't say the "reduction" or "elevation" of poverty, implying that there would be less, but rather CWM was talking about eradication. I was convinced that was impossible... after three colloquia meetings in various parts of Africa, I was transformed. My mind was changed...
Is it possible for Jesus' mind to be changed? Is it possible for Jesus to be challenged?
These questions raise probably more theological questions than it answers. Although if we are to believe in the incarnational God, fully divine and fully human, then we have no choice but to entertain the idea.
If you read the chapter in its entirety, Jesus has a conversation with the Pharisees about them using the laws to do or get what they want. The perception is that the Pharisees use the law to benefit themselves and don't use the law to bless others, which is what the law is suppose to do.

Then enter the Canaanite Woman asking Jesus to heal her daughter.
Interesting things to note: The woman addresses Jesus as the 'Son of David'. Jesus ignores the woman. Only after the disciples ask Jesus to tell her to go away, does he react. The words Jesus uses are shocking, calling the woman a dog.
Jesus engages this woman and He seems to have all the answers (perhaps laws); perhaps He didn't bank on this woman having her own answers. The woman speaks to Jesus 'heart (v18). Jesus is changed somehow...

Are we open to being challenged, as we do God's mission in the world? Do we assume we have all the answers? Can our minds be changed or challenged to bless people who we don't expect God to be working for/with??
Melanie Cook is a wife to Gordon, and mother to Joshua and Rebecca. Currently serving at St Giles in Johannesburg. She is a self confessed coffee fanatic, who dreams of living in Knysna one day.