From the Archives of Fr. Metzler’s Homilies: 20th Sunday in Ordianry Time, Cycle A

“Crumby Gospel”

Isaiah 56:1, 6-7    Romans 11:11-32    Matthew 15:21-28

But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

I’m thinking about the crumb of bread I will receive this morning and the morsel I will place into your cupped hands during the Eucharist today. “The body of Christ, broken for you,” He said. The body of Christ broken for me. For me! We all will receive crumbs from the Master’s table — bread and wine, body and blood. It won’t take much. There will be no three-course sit down dinner. A morsel and a tiny sip are enough, yes more than enough, at Jesus’ table.

We need this ‘crumby’ gospel, especially on days when the world seems crummy. We need this taste of Jesus to whet our appetite for more and to sustain us and remind us again and again of what really matters and that we belong. We need to come to the table and kneel, as it were, at Jesus’ feet with all our sorrow, pain, baggage, and badness. Yes, even the little whelps and aged curs get something from the master. No one is excluded. So why do Jesus’ disciples get all lathered up over the Canaanite woman?

You’d think by now they would have realized that Jesus is not out to impress the religious elite or to maintain the status quo. In fact, he’s just delivered, in the passage before, a graphic object lesson about the source of human filth and rottenness. Ouch! Oh, what dark hearts we hide beneath the clothes of respectability and righteousness. Jesus lists some of the dark and dirty things: evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. You get the idea. Not keeping nit-picky rules, abandoning hollow traditions, and refusing to get hung-up on religiosity do not render us ‘unclean’ or outside of God’s love.

I wonder how this encounter in the gospel lesson really went down. We have the words on the page, but we don’t have the tone of voice, the looks, the entire scene before us. When the woman appeals to Jesus he doesn’t answer her. What hangs in that silence? The disciples are evidently quick to fill it by urging that Jesus send this inconvenient truth of an outsider away. His next words, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” must have sounded mighty fine to the annoyed and embarrassed disciples.

Perhaps there was a lesson for them in the words that they overlooked. After all, they were quite prone to overlooking both the obvious and the obscure. Yet even in the midst of this rather crummy situation, the woman will not be deterred from holding out her hand for a crumb from Jesus. She instinctively knows she belongs at the table. That is great faith, my friends. And, this too, is great stewardship. This outsider woman gets it. She understands that you don’t hoard grace and that you aren’t stingy with love and healing. A crumb from Jesus makes all the difference in the world.

Chances are that this week you, like all sensitive followers of Jesus, are reeling and/or numb from world events. War and torture everywhere, riots in our own country, hatred toward children at our borders. Add to that the usual list of prayer needs and human brokenness and pain. So I hand out this crumby gospel, these crumbs of abundant love, grace, and salvation, and I won’t be stingy. You, too must believe that Jesus is still about the business of working miracles, changing lives, and ushering in the reconciliation of this world. Come to the table, every last rag tag and gimpy one of you. Hold out your hands for these precious crumbs and receive – and then go out to share — this very good news.  (Sharron Blezzard)

1 Comment

  1. Cathy Raffaele

    Thu 17th Aug 2017 at 9:13 am

    I made this comment 3 year ago and it still applies:

    I was moved by this line from the homily: “She instinctively knows she belongs at the table”. I wonder how many people really think they belong at the table. So many are made to feel unworthy..that somehow they need to do the right things so that they can come to the table…earn their place.

    I pray that everyone will be open to God’s grace and know that they are always welcome at the table.

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