While drinking my morning coffee, I was reading the blog of Peter Rollins, whose book entitled ‘How (not) to speak of God‘ has just been downloaded onto my e-book reader. In one of his entries, he recollected:
One evening a young man who is returning home after a long and tiring day at work gets a call from his concerned wife,
“Dear, be careful on the way home as I just heard on the radio that some crazy guy has been spotted going full speed the wrong way up the freeway”
“Sorry love” he shouts back, “can’t talk right now… there isn’t just one nutter, there are hundreds of them!!!”
One of the interesting things to note about this little anecdote is the way that the husband does not even entertain the possibility that he might be going the wrong way. Rather he takes it for granted that he is right.
Today’s lectionary reading about Jesus and the Syrophoenician Woman’s daughter is one that may have wished not to have been there this Sunday! One the surface, one can be quite taken aback by how harsh Jesus’ replies are to this woman in need. After hearing an excellent sermon at Trinity this morning, there were a couple of things that I reflected upon as I cut the grass tonight, which I thought I would jot down in the blog (I am determined to keep up with this thing!):
- It is interesting how events pan out in Matthew’s Gospel in this story. Written with a Jewish audience in mind as can be seen in the constant referral to fulfilment of the Hebrew Bible as well as the genealogy in Matthew 1:1, one could go as far as to be pleasantly surprised by Jesus’ actions in the end. If the Syrophoenician woman was not as strong in her faith in Jesus as she was, it would have been entirely understood if she were to have just walked away after Jesus’ reply/remark. But she didn’t. She stood her ground and fought her corner. This woman believed that Jesus could heal her daughter and as a child of God she felt that Jesus should answer her pleas in the exact same manner as those of a Jew. Boundaries were crossed and equal treatment was received.
- England has had a tough week. With people taking things to the ultimate extreme and seeing fit to riot, loot, assault and in some cases kill, it was heartbreaking to see a father, grieving for his son who was killed while trying to protect others, simply asking the rioters to ‘calm down and go home’. For me this was a most beautiful thing. So many words could have parted that man’s lips at that time – words of anger, words demanding the most severe punishment for all involved, words wishing revenge and the pain that may accompany it, yet he simply said these words:
“Blacks, Asians, whites – we all live in the same community. Why do we have to kill each other?
“I lost my son. Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, calm down and go home.”
We live in a world filled with people going in different directions. Some people think there is only one direction. Some people try different directions to see if they will end up at the same destination. Some people are still waiting to set off on their journey.
My prayer is that one day, people may stop forcing others off the road for going in a different direction. We are all pilgrims on a journey…perhaps some may benefit from walking along a new path once in a while…