Making a difference

Gospel:  Matthew 15:10-28

This mornings text from Matthew has the story of Jesus reacting negatively to a woman who is not Jewish. Now many commentators look at this as a struggle Jesus had with being fully human. Remember that Jesus is fully human and fully divine. I know I struggle with that picture. I do not like to think that Jesus calls the woman a racial slur, referring to her as a dog. I can't imagine Jesus doing that especially not the Jesus I have come to know this far into the Matthew story. Yet I think it is good for us to struggle with this passage in this way today.

I have just been to the two day training on dismantling racism. There are many parallels we can draw from this story this morning and our systems of power that keep racism in place. Jesus uses the racial slur in order to silence the woman. This is exactly what the disciples have asked him to do. Please keep her silent, respond to her in some way because Jesus has heard her following, asking for his attention yet he hasn't stopped to talk with her. Maybe he was just hoping she'd fade away.

There has been a tragic event in Ferguson this week and there are many who hope it will fade away. We ask why are they rioting and we don't understand the situation that keeping silence brings. Keeping silent perpetuates untruth, it does not allow the community, any community to go forward. We need some places to be able to say we will not keep silent about these stories. Unfortunately Michael Brown is not the first in this type of situation and he will not be the last if we don't strive for truthful dialogue. This type of dialogue happens at our dismantling racism training. It is important that we hear others stories. It is important for us to hear about one another's experiences and that we try to change those systems in which we work and live to be something different.

As Jesus listened to the woman and her concern he brushes her aside as unworthy to receive it. Unworthy because she is not a Jew and I can't help but wonder if his talk to Peter isn't echoing in his ears, the first part of this scripture, because her response to Jesus is from her heart. It exposes her hope, her faith that something can be different. You see in the first part of this story today Jesus tells Peter that it is the response of our hearts which makes us clean or unclean not the observation of Jewish law. So as he responds to this woman has he not violated his own talk from above. This woman is a child of God.

Michael Brown is a child of God, no matter what other facts come forward it does not negate that he was unarmed. So how do we deal with this? I think we need honest conversation with our brothers and sisters to see what is going on in our own communities. To seek out and find what challenges are present here. Be honest and take the time to do it. We cannot go forward if we are just silent and let these tragedies keep coming to pass. I can't give you what steps you need to take because that is different for every community. The most important thing is to engage and do it. How will you choose to make a difference?