Notes on This week’s Lectionary text – in progress

Ordinary 20 A, Matthew 15:10–20, 21–28

“You Dog!”  – Jesus (in effect) to the Canaanite woman who just wanted her poor daughter healed of her deamons.  This is going to be an interesting week.

If there is one theme that has dominated our poor human specie it is the problem of ethnicity  – in its function as a group boundary marker.  Us and Them has been defined by family, tribe, clan, kinship group since we were primates in the jungle.  We as a specie have demonstrated that there is no action we will not justify and carry out against people we define as “other” – and today the primary way we identify is ethnically.

You may not, if you are North American, Australian, New Zealander, and a very few other places, becuase of your (my) unusually blended nation – but we are in the tiny minority of human beings.  We do the same kind of thing anyway, only our boundary markers are race, rather than ethnicity – but it’s the same thing in the end.  It is a perceived competition for scarce resources and group identity defining the combatants.  There are no new ideas.

So, does Jesus get sucked into this same trap?  What’s going on here?  I’ll be thinking about this passage this week.  Join me.

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3 thoughts on “Notes on This week’s Lectionary text – in progress

  1. Ethnicity or alienation. How do this weeks Lectionary readings relate to the unprecedented riots occuring in London?
    Psychologists suggest its a mistake to label the violence as ‘mindless’. What meanings motivate these young people to destroy the communities to which they belong?
    Isaiah points towards God gathering outcasts, over and above the gathering of Israel. But he also focusses on the importance of religious fidelity. All who do righteousness and hold fast to the divine covenant are God’s servants.
    Then the Canaanite woman – the persistent foreigner (and a woman!) who shows up the disciples.
    Can you see the connections? I am having difficulty at the moment. But I know they must be there somewhere.

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