Bad Jesus, or, Voices on the Edge

This can be listened to here

Gate Pa – Year B 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time,

Psalm             Psalm 125     
First Reading:             Prov 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23          
Second Reading:        James 2:1-10, 11-13, 14-17   
Gospel:                                    Mark 7:24-37               
What I want to say:
I want to explore the story of the Syrophonecian woman as a story about Jesus coming face to face with the ramifications of what he had been teaching; that the reign of God plays by nobody’s rules but God’s, not even Jesus’ rules; and then ask who might be acting as the Syrophonecian woman today.

What I want to happen:
People to reflect on who might be acting as the Syrophonecian woman for us today?

The Sermon

       1.      Introduction:

few jobs ago Bonnie and I worked for Methodist church helping parishes think about how they might need to change if they really wanted to be a welcoming place for young people
pretty intense for 2 years
needed recruit some new parishes
asked one minister give brief supporting talk as part of presentation at Synod to invite some new parishes into the process
he was too honest – got no takers.
got to say feels like Mark is being way tooo honest here as well.
sure could made story Syrophonecian a lot more acceptable.

       2.      Bad Jesus

Last week’s story?
Ø  Jesus says “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
ð  radical stuff
§  could eat with unclean hands
§  no food is unclean
·         know from Acts and Galatians this on-going source debate
§  more radical – possibility that you could eat with unclean people
§  ? did this include non-Jews – those beyond Jesus group
§  more radical that maybe gentile heart is as acceptable to God as Hebrew heart
-          immediately Jesus has travelled into Gentile area,
-          no mention of disciples – might be on own
-          reading between lines – desperately looking for time away from people and demands they made on him
o   even disciples
here he is in middle gentile area – no Jews
but he is recognised by desperate desperate woman
-          daughter is possessed – involves pretty anti-social behaviour
-          she at least and maybe family ostracised – not welcome in community life
-          desperate for daughter, like any mother
-          desperate life back and place restored
-          comes to beg from this Jewish rabbi
o   she a gentile coming to ask help from one of them
-          she comes unchaperoned it would appear
o   no man speak for her
-          falls at this feet and begs
so many social conventions/traditions of the elders broken
this is very risky behaviour
Jesus responds with "Stand in line and take your turn. The children get fed first. If there's any left over, the dogs get it."

       3.      Ouch

seriously Mark – that is what he says
you are trying to convince us that Jesus is son of God
and this is what he says to this poor woman?
I think you could have done a better job with this
Matthew at least tries to put a positive spin on it.
Some people think Jesus was testing her to see how deep her faith was
others suggest he is engaging in a word game with her
others say here we see human side of Jesus.
Commentaries I read all online – on websites
some authors offered opportunity for people to comment on what they have offered
usually one or two
this reading few more
mostly women
not letting anyone get away with any of that
You don’t respond to desperate people risked a lot by calling them dogs
-          callous
-          rude
-          uncalled for
sad thing is that in all likelihood Mark and Marks listeners would not have been shocked at all by what Jesus said
it was how people treated each other
she clearly an outsider and had no right to be speaking to him
she deserved no less.
makes it no less shocking for us though
it just doesn’t fit with how we think Jesus should act
usually full compassion, generosity, offering hospitality and healing.
Not today.
Here we have Jesus
-          brought up by devout parents in small Jewish community
-          who understands ministry is to his people
-          doesn’t have time for this rude gentile woman interrupting his rest.

       4.      She speaks

what would have shocked people is that she responds
shocking in itself
then what she says
"Of course, Master. But don't dogs under the table get scraps dropped by the children?"
she rocks Jesus world
his eyes are opened, just as the deaf man’s ears are opened next.
sees her
not just gentile dog
but woman who risked much seek his help
her gentile heart is as acceptable to God as Hebrew heart
and he responds
without going near her house
learns that the reign of God plays by nobodies rules but God’s, not even Jesus’ rules
second story he heals another gentile
section ends with feeding of 4,000 – gentiles
pivotal moment in Marks gospel
Jesus’ understanding of reign of God breaking into our world
He thought he had it all sorted radical as his ideas were
she broke it all down and makes him rethink the whole thing.

       5.      Who are Syrophonecian women today?

Helen Clark and feminist group at Auckland University?


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