Starting Michaelmas 9/29/2017

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A homily for Sunday

August 20th 2017


In the communion rail of Blessed Trinity church is carved, “Do not give to the dogs the food of the children”.  The church was build during the Great Depression and at that time Roman Catholics viewed the world as “Catholic or Protestant, black or white, right or wrong”.  No one other than faithful Catholics in a state of grace was allowed to receive communion.  At that time, going to communion too often could be considered a sin of pride.  Like so much of today, I look back on that communion rail as a sin of history carved in stone.


Isaiah is looking for the light and glory of God to rebuild the Temple to restore the shattered Jerusalem just as people are retuning form the exile in Babylon.  At this point there is not much to work with, but they have everything that they need.  The light and power of God is within the people.  The gentiles are invited to share in the re-building of Jerusalem.  Over and over again, Isaiah calls out about the light, the blessing and the righteousness is for all people. In there is a lesson for evangelism I think.

Switch gears and visit the Gospel with me...

I read an article on today’s Gospel reading where the pastor started by saying, “Today we get to see grumpy Jesus.” Nonsense!! 


Have you ever had a sick child?  I remember standing in the corridor of the ER as the doctors worked on our son.  On a visit to Grandpa he had gotten into some very powerful medicine and went into convulsions.  The doctors were confident and knew what to do, they were very good.  In my quiet desperation I begged God, I fought with God...a little like Moses, “You cannot do this!”  Everything turned out fine in a day or two and we sent home.


Why Jesus went to gentile territory, I don’t know.  The woman is begging for her child’s health, her life that I do know something about.  She cries out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David...”  Here among the gentiles she names him the Messiah, the Lord as Son of David.  The Pharisees and the temple faithful would not have the faith to do that.


The disciples suggest, “Send her away.”  Pretty hard hearted until you realize the implication is to give this woman what she wants, healing, and send her on her way.  They are actually advocating for her.

In true Palestinian tradition the repartee starts.  Jesus is having fun; they are playing ‘one-ups man ship”


I came for the lost sheep of Israel

So, help me!

It’s not right to throw the food of the children to the dogs

Okay buddy, if were dogs...where’s the scraps from the table.  Sharing!!??

I can see a smile beak onto Jesus face, she won.  Woman, great is your faith!  Jesus gets the final word in, “Let it be done as you wish!”


Why do we often see religion and prayer as so cut-and-dry?  It is the deepest, most human part of us that sometimes just can’t find the words; it is that part of us that prays best.  Sometimes there are no words, just desperation and the Spirit is desperate within us for the blessing.


I think Jesus was mindful of Isaiah.  This unknown woman, not part of the tribe, the click, or the family begs her need.  The kingdom of heaven breaks through when her great faith is realized.

Be careful of grumpy folks, you have no idea what they are going through.  If someone complains it means that they expect someone to hear.  If we’re the ones listening, maybe you can throw a scrap of kindness.  In Hebrew it is a, ‘mitzvah’, a blessing.  If they have greater faith they may ask to come to the table.


When that happens we should grab aprons and serve them.



In the world we find ourselves in, those crying out in faith; even if it is not our faith, deserve the scraps of our kindness.  At times a little blessing is all we have, all we can give and sometimes that’s enough. Someday, they themselves may ask to come to the table.