[Matthew 15 from The Message]
In the struggle between rules and relationship, it seems efficient to rest on the rules – just figure out what is ‘right’ and do that. But, of course, it’s the heart that is the seat of truth, rather than the actions or even the mind. What springs from a heart centered on self and self-justification is shallow and hurtful to all concerned. A wrongly tuned heart pollutes even holy actions.
What’s this with the Canaanite woman? Is that story true to the character of Jesus? How then so seemingly cold? He seems to say, ‘I can’t waste time on you.’ He seems to heal her to get rid of her. She seems the righteous one in this story – willing to endure anything to get the help her daughter needs. Does Jesus embody or merely illustrate the mindset of Israel? I want to rationalize the encounter. Jesus (or the writer) seems to feel no need. Best I can do is let the question fester and ask – like the Canaanite woman – for healing, regardless of what I deserve.
And then the 4,000. Here, Jesus gives even more than what is asked – not crumbs from the table, but crumbs turned into a feast for a multitude. Seven loaves for the whole crowd; seven baskets collected at the end. More than enough – more than filled up – more left-over than at the start.