The Epistle James 2:1-10, [11-13], 14-17
My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
The Gospel Mark 7:24-37
Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
Every Sunday we read from the The Revised Common Lectionary.
The Lectionary focuses on the seasons of the Church Year,
And our major feast days.
It includes the Matthew, Mark and Luke, and parts of John.
So, it’s not the whole Bible, but we do get a lot of it,
In our three year cycle: Years A, B and C.
If you’ve been coming to church for awhile,
you’ve heard a lot of Bible stories.
I’m pretty sure today’s Gospel is kind of familiar.
It’s an important story.
After Jesus’ had words with the Pharisees,
He headed off to a Gentile region called Tyre.
Maybe he hoped folks there wouldn’t know who he was,
And he could get some rest. No such luck!
When the Gentile lady approached him, Jesus he was pretty beat.
Women didn’t start conversation with men, back then.
But she did. She had a mission: Save her baby.
And to do that, she broke every social rule in Jesus’ world.
Her daughter was possessed by a demon, she said,
And she had heard that Jesus could throw demons out.
When she reached out to the famous Jewish Rabbi,
The woman took a big risk,
But what Mother here wouldn’t have done the same thing?
She knew that everyone is entitled to healing and salvation.
When people think about Jesus, it’s easy to focus on his Divinity.
His humanity gets overlooked.
But it’s the eternal tension between God and Man,
That makes Jesus so interesting.
And in today’s Gospel we see both sides in play.
Even though Jesus was a tired, worn out guy,
he doesn’t say to the woman, “Leave me alone”.
He listens to her plea and says, strangely,
“Let the children be fed first…
it’s not fair to throw the children’s food to the dogs.”
Scholars still debate what he meant, but not the woman.
She was witty. She had the whole thing planned.
So right away she says:
“Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
The woman’ mission was to save her child. And she had faith.
She didn’t suppose she was entitled to a miracle.
She just had faith. Faith was all she needed.
I know this miracle really happened. Miracles still do!
But it is all kinds of symbolic.
The “children” Jesus mentions are the people of Israel.
His priority. The “dogs” are everybody else on the earth.
In the Greek Gospel, Jesus actually says “little dogs”.
Puppies. Children. Future grownups.
We are all puppies, bustling about under the table,
looking for crumbs.
Jesus wanted to give those puppies a chance,
to live long enough to choose their way. To chose their way.
We’ve lived. We say that we’ve chosen Jesus.
But, if we were on trial,
What’s the evidence to prove we’ve chose Jesus?
Today’s Gospel is a reminder that our Me First ideology,
is nothing new. 2000 years after Calvary, it’s as real as ever.
There is no room for Me First, in the Gospel.
“Sir”, she said, “even the dogs under the table, eat the … crumbs.”
The moral of this Gospel story is simply this:
Everyone is entitled to the gift of healing and salvation. Everyone.
We are healed … we are saved … we are fed…by God’s grace.
And God’s grace alone.
No one of us can claim, or own, or buy or sell, what Jesus freely gave on the Cross.
None of us need go hungry. None of us need be sick.
The Lord’s bounty is endless.
Everyone is entitled to the gift of healing and salvation.