Matthew 15:10-20, 21-28 (NRSV)
Verse 10Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, "Listen and understand: Verse 11it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles." Verse 12Then the disciples approached and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?" Verse 13He answered, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Verse 14Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit." Verse 15But Peter said to him, "Explain this parable to us." Verse 16Then he said, "Are you also still without understanding? Verse 17Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? Verse 18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. Verse 19For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. Verse 20These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile."
Verse 21Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Verse 22Just 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." Verse 23But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us." Verse 24He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Verse 25But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." Verse 26He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." Verse 27She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Verse 28Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly.
Interruptions happen. How many times do our plans for the day never work out? Some days we can’t even look at our list of things to do because we are pulled in a different direction, or two, or five. But Jesus’ harsh response to the Canaanite woman seems unkind. Jesus here does not sound like the Prince of Peace. It is disturbing that Jesus sounds like me when I am frustrated with an interruption.
What are we to do with this Jesus story? Here are three thoughts. Look to the Canaanite woman as an example of persistence when asking what you need. Give thanks that Jesus is interruptible. Praise God the Canaanite woman’s daughter was healed.
Hey God, Are you there? Are you listening to me? I really need your help. My friend, my family member, my neighbor, they all need help, too. Hey God, please go with me today. Guide my actions. Give me the right words. Let me know you are there. Please. Amen.