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Lectionary reflections - Year A
Ordinary Time
Proper 15

Isaiah 56.1, 6–8
Romans 11.1–2a, 29–32
Matthew 15.10–28

This strange story of the Canaanite woman clearly scratches an itch for Matthew’s readers. If you put this version and Mark’s version side by side (Mark 7.24–30), you will see some subtle differences. Mark’s version is, as usual, more abrupt, but both can be read on at least two levels.

The first level is the main strand of the story. Both Gospels put this interchange between Jesus and the foreign woman in the context of an increasingly angry and critical set of encounters with the Pharisees and scribes. The Pharisees are questioning Jesus’ authority, and he in turn is challenging their understanding of the Law, and so of God. But although Jesus argues forcefully and with confidence, he is
essentially arguing in terms that the Pharisees understand. This whole debate is conducted in the language of scriptural interpretation, with each side determined to make its case. Jesus is clear that his mission is continuous with God’s great missionary enterprise in calling the people of Israel, and the Pharisees are determined to show him that he is mistaken. But this is still very much a family fight, however bitter and potentially bloody. Who has the right to interpret the Tradition?

Taken from Lectionary reflections year A by Jane Williams - Published by SPCK

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