Readings for August 16, 2020
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8
Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
My mom baked cookies every week while we were growing up (yes, I was that loved!). But in our selfishness, my brothers and I would grow tired of the cookies by the end of the week, and we wanted new, fresh ones. Fortunately, Phil, the postman, loved cookies. His route didn’t include our house but was close by, so he often stopped on his lunch break and ate his lunch in our kitchen while we sat at the table eating our own lunches. As wise kids, we knew this to be an opportunity for us. Nearing the end of the week, we would put out a plate with an extra large portion of cookies. What we considered table scraps, Phil enjoyed as a treat, eating the entire plate full. And as a result, mom had to bake more cookies. Win-win.
The Samaritan woman also sees the table scraps as treasure. Jesus tests her faith further though, pointing out, graphically, the division between the Jews and the Samaritans. But the woman stays faithful, responding to Jesus, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” In doing so, she is both humble and confident that Jesus, as master healer, can help her daughter. And Jesus, of course, offers far more than scraps. Heralding the woman’s faith, she is offered both healing for her daughter and inheritance for her faith.
A humble faith, being willing to accept the scraps and see the beauty in what is being offered, propels the Samaritan woman, and could propel me into a life in Christ. From the start, the woman recognized and called upon the power of Jesus. She bore her humiliation to pray for her daughter’s healing, knowing that without faith, she had no inheritance with this Jewish healer. But rather than expecting something more palatable to come along, perhaps a Samaritan healer to come around the corner with a fresh plate of cookies, she humbles herself at the opportunity to receive even scraps. And her humility is evidence of that great faith that Jesus praises and what leads her to her reward. “The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord … loving the name of the Lord and becoming his servants … will be acceptable on my altar.”
Receive our oblation, O Lord, by which is brought about a glorious exchange, that, by offering what you have given, we may merit to receive your very self. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (prayer after the offerings)