Pentecost + 9 - Year A
Matthew 15:(10-20), 21-28
We can hear it in every generation - it's not about who you are, it's about what you do with who you are (hate the sin, but love the sinner). That's very neat, but not real. Our being and our doing are intimately connected with one another.
A Canaanite woman (2 strikes for being both a woman and a Canaanite) calls out, puts a claim on mercy being extended. According to the earlier statement, one would expect Jesus to pay attention to what the person did/said, not who they were. Mercy was asked for and yet it was denied. Regardless of who is doing the asking, when asked, mercy is expected.
The disciples were also caught up in the doing and being, but in the other way around.
Note how the general cry for Mercy finally has to come down to both one's being and one's doing. Eventually, "Mercy!" needs to become "Help me!"
Questions come, just as in the abortion debate or any wedge issue - the daughter is healed, a fetus brought to term - and now what - simply being female is a problem in a patriarchic system that we are still too much a part of, whether in Sudan or America. What does it mean for this daughter to be healed in this moment only to be discounted later? It might be claimed that she is returned to only having 2 strikes against her (female and of another tribe) instead of 3 (female, of another tribe, and certifiably crazy). Discrimination doesn’t need any basis in reality, for it can always call her less than human again for being a woman or a foreigner. This story is about Jesus and his disciples not being able to initially see faithfulness when wrapped in the colors of another gang.
Seems a lot of us, in Peterson’s words, are “willfully stupid” or keep having the same limited perception that needs continual correcting. We keep trying to separate that which can’t be separated. Whether about being and doing or varieties of faith.
Basic take-away - a daughter was healed, a society wasn’t - ask for more, go for 0 strikes. We need to pay attention to both a needed band-aid and systemic causations. If you are called to work with band-aids, put them on with gusto and support those working on causation. If you are called to shift paradigms, give it your all and encourage those who are caring for immediate needs. May your doing and your being reveal faith in an expansive and expanding “Love”.