Hmm. At this time of the year, the Gospel texts tend to be rather complicated. Today, we have a text which combines actually two very different stories. First, the speech about eating and defiling a person, and then the story about Canaanite women and crumbs on the floor.
Is there something in common in these two stories? Is there something which combines them? Or should I actually give two sermons? (No, I won’t.)
Jesus and disciples are active in both of the stories. Jesus speaks, and so do the disciples. In the first part of the text the disciples are worried about pharisees. “They took offense when they heard what you said”. And in the other part the shouting women distracted them. ”Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us”, they say.
So, at least this combines the two stories: The disciples are concerned about other people and their own comfort. First, they don’t want to be any harm to pharisees, they might be little bit worried about the situation. And then, they want to get rid of the screaming lady.
Disciples are quite human, aren’t they? Their acts are quite stupid, and they don’t understand what’s going on. Just like we people often are. Why do we act like this?
There is Jesus, speaking truth about eating rules and telling pharisees that it is your acts which defile you. That we must act with love and respect towards one another. And disciples are scared – “now you said too much, they didn’t like it, there might be consequences”. And then there is this woman, asking help for her daughter, and disciples are distracted, they don’t think about helping the woman, but they want to get rid of her, because her screaming is irritating them.
How often we act like this. We concentrate on ourselves, on our own comfort. We might see an unjust thing or something done wrong, but we are afraid to act. How difficult it is to say: “this is wrong, this can not be.”
How often we leave people in the middle of injustice and problems, just because we are too fond of our own state and privileges or too scared for the consequences? And how often we walk past someone who needs help and are just a little bit irritated. Can’t she or he just be silent and behave?
I think, this is something we should reflect today. Why are we so keen to our own comfort, or in what other people think about us, that we fail to do what is right.
The way Jesus calls us, is the way, the truth and life. In today’s Old testament reading, we heard: “Thus says the LORD: Maintain justice, and do what is right”. That is the way. When we look around us in this world, we see that there is work to do. Lot of work, actually. We must act when we see injustice. We must speak the truth. And we must help, when someone in need asks for it. That’s the way Jesus is, and that’s the way we are called. Not just to life in comfort, and not just to try not to be any harm to others. The call leads us to uncomfort-zone, it might lead us in the middle of suffering and pain.
There is also Jesus. In people’s lives, in their pains and sorrows. Walking beside, comforting and helping. And in His death, Jesus is in our deaths and losses. And in his resurrection, his is always with us, in eternal life.
So, let’s not be afraid when it’s time to act or speak. Let us maintain justice and do what is right.
Revd. Kati Pirttimaa
Sermon 16th August 2020