Tenth Sunday after Trinity

TENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY

Proper 15

 

 

Readings:

 

The Church celebrates The Blessed Virgin Mary on 15th August,

 so two sets of readings again:

 

 

Proper 15                                                                  The Blessed Virgin Mary                                                                 

Isaiah 56:1,6-8                                                                Revelation 11:19-12:6

Psalm 67                                                                            Psalm 45

Romans 11:1-2a,29-32                                                    Galatians 4:4-7       

Matthew 15:21-28                                                           Luke 1:46-55

 

 

Collects:

Proper 15

Let your merciful ears, O Lord,

be open to the prayers of your humble servants;

and that they may obtain their petitions

make them to ask such things as shall please you;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 

The Blessed Virgin Mary

Almighty God,

who looked upon the lowliness of the Blessed Virgin Mary

and chose her to be the mother of your only Son:

grant that we who are redeemed through him

may share with her in the glory of your eternal kingdom;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 

 

Some Thoughts and Reflections

 

15th August is an important Feast day in the Roman Catholic Church.

 

It is the Feast of the Assumption – the belief that Mary was carried bodily into heaven at the end of her earthly life.   

 

This official dogma of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, since 1950, was based on manuscript evidence of legends about the death of Mary.

 

The Protestant Churches have had difficulty with this and other beliefs and venerations of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and have reacted against what they consider excessive Roman piety.

 

But, surely, such beliefs and teachings follow on logically from belief in the divinity of Christ.

 

As the Son of God, with no earthly father, how could his mother be an ordinary woman???... and inevitably legend and tradition accrue.

 

 

 

Madonna of the Garden

20th century, Mission San Diego de Alcala, California

Plaster and mosaic

 

 

As we saw last week, pondering the Transfiguration, we like to ‘set our revelations in stone’ and fix in place what we have come to believe.

 

The trouble with doing that, though, is that it can mean missing the point completely!

 

We also have the tendency to speak out, shutting down any further thought/dialogue before we have truly listened - and heard!

 

 

If we listen, what might we hear?

 

 

 

Annunciation Diptych (detail) Lippo Memmi and Simone Martini - Uffizi Gallery, Florence

 

 

Consider:

What do you think/feel about such beliefs and representations?

 

Do they affect you in any way?

 

If so, can you say why?

 

 

There is an old story that goes something like this:

 

There was a Rabbi who lived in a village on the Steppes of Russia. Every morning for twenty years he crossed the village square to pray in the Synagogue and every morning he was closely watched by a policeman who hated Jews.

Finally, one morning the policeman walked up to the Rabbi and demanded to know where he was going.

 

“I don’t know”, said the Rabbi.

 

“What do you mean you don’t know? For the past twenty years I have seen you go to that Synagogue across the square and now you say you don’t know? I’ll teach you a lesson!”

 

With that he grabbed the old man by the beard and dragged him off to jail.

 

As the policeman was turning the key to the prison cell, the Rabbi looked at him with a twinkle in his eye and said,

 

“Do you see now what I meant when I said I didn’t know?”

                                                                                                        (courtesy of Anthony de Mello)

 

 

Today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel records what has been called,

 

 ‘one of the stranger of the many strange incidents recorded in the Gospels’.

 

For us today, it is particularly relevant as we are being challenged to address the racism and many other ‘isms’ endemic in our society and our institutions, including the church.

 

Basically, it reflects the struggle that the early Christians had in accepting Gentiles into their community. This was eventually resolved by Matthew’s community as we see in the ending to Matthew’s Gospel with the disciples being sent out into all the world.

We see echoes of the division between Jew and Gentile addressed in various ways in all 4 Gospels and in Paul’s letters.

 

So, let us follow the story:

 

A Canaanite woman (foreign and female) approaches Jesus and his disciples.

Notice she calls Jesus, ‘Lord’ and most significantly, uses his Jewish title, ‘Son of David’.

Clearly, the disciples are annoyed as they ask Jesus to send her away.

Jesus, himself ignores her and reminds the disciples of his mission among his own Jewish community,

“I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

“It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

 

The woman, though, is not to be put off and kneels before Jesus, pleading with him to help her.

This, of course, he does.

 

As we see Jesus with this insistent woman of faith move from icy silence to annoyance and insult, on into recognising her great faith and need for healing, we are witnesses to the journey the early Jewish Christians had to make from initial silent separation from the Gentiles, through angry and difficult encounters, to inclusion and reconciliation.

 

Jesus, here, in true Christ-like fashion, takes on and so mirrors for us the process by which we, too, can move from prejudice and exclusion to acceptance and inclusion - and finally, into actively embracing diversity.

 

This is ultimately the journey from fear to love.

 

It is a long journey and one that we will make many times on The Way.

 

 

Prayer

 

Lord, Son of David,

have mercy on us

as we kneel before you

bearing many concerns.

 

We come bearing the rejected and exiled parts of ourselves,

the rejected and exiled parts of our communities,

the rejected and exiled peoples of our world,

the rejected and exiled places in our world.

 

And we pray

for your healing power

to lead us from captivity and fear

into freedom and love.

 

 

THE PEACE

Nothing shall separate us fro the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.  Amen.

 

 

THE BLESSING

Be strong in the Lord

And in the power of his might;

and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always.  Amen.

 

 

Stephanie Sokolowski            16/8/20

 

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