by Kenneth C. Kroohs

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
Kenneth C. Kroohs
Isaiah 56:1-7; Psalm 67; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28
August 15, 1999

It is a real joy for me to be here today. I have been honored to celebrate at some of the Tuesday evening healing services, but not worship with you on a Sunday morning since my internship here a few years back. So when Bob and I began talking about exchanging churches for a Sunday I knew that would be great fun!

Preaching at St. Mary's is a special honor because you have a tradition of good preaching with Glenn, Dee and now Bob. It is an honor, and also a challenge to live up to those standards. The challenge is especially difficult on a day like today when we have what many people consider the most difficult passage in all the gospels. What exactly is Jesus getting at? Why would He treat anyone like that? Jesus is the one who has elevated the status of those who were marginalized by society, those considered less important. And for Jesus that especially included women. And yet, here we find Jesus calling the woman a dog. The most demeaning insult He could use.

Naturally there are many explanations. Some scholars point out that Matthew stresses Jesus' earthly ministry being directed only at the Jews. For example, when Jesus sends the disciples out two by two He instructs them to go "only to the lost sheep of Israel." These scholars suggest that Matthew is building to the climax of his gospel -- the great commission. After emphasizing that the ministry is only to the Jews, Matthew has Jesus' last words being "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations."

An interesting explanation. But these scholars seem to be suggesting that Matthew embellished the event. That Jesus never was this harsh with the woman but Matthew wanted to make a point.

Being what I call a "liberal literalist," I don't like that explanation. I don't think we should just casually throw out parts of the Gospels because eliminating th ...

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