Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Book of Common Prayer
Psalm 146, 147, 111,112,113
1 Corinthians 4:9-16
How do we understand the breadth of God’s love in troubling situations?
Despite trying to be an open, outgoing, upbeat, and positive person, on some days I am downright crabby. Projects are not going right. Interruptions mar my train of thought. I am just not myself. People who know me well understand that something is really wrong when I am having one of those days. The Bible, though, even gives examples of people struggling with being the person God wants them to be. It does not excuse me for snapping at a co-worker or friend when they do not deserve it, but it does offer hope that I can overcome that bad day because, hopefully, my character is judged by my life, not one ill conceived response.
The Biblical passage that most troubles me is the passage in Matthew we read today. Jesus is outright crabby with the woman and insults all Gentiles. Over the years, I have heard numerous sermons and essays written on the passage, but none have made me comfortable with Jesus’s response to the woman – though he eventually grants her request when she calls him on his insult. He even contradicts his own ministry by saying he only came for the Jews. I usually just skip the passage or read on to the next in which the “Jesus I like” returns.
The devil on my shoulder sometimes prompts me to enjoy Jesus’s sharp remarks: he was snappy too! But why was this comment directed at a woman who believed in him and recognized his Lordship? The Sadducees and Pharisees deserved this kind of response, and while Jesus regularly called their hypocrisy and lack of understanding, he never dealt them direct insults. Yet here his response to the woman sounded like something they would say. This is not the Jesus I like.
The key to this passage comes in the crumbs. Even the crumbs, the remnants, of God’s love are sufficient for us, for with even that, the woman’s daughter was healed. Passages in the Psalms and the prophets proclaim the breadth of God’s presence in all creation. This passage transfers that breadth to God’s love for all people. Even the crumbs are enough to meet even overwhelming needs. I am still troubled by the process by which Jesus makes the point, but I do take comfort from knowing that even the crumbs of God’s love covers us all.
Let us be satisfied by the power of the crumbs.