6th September 2015, 14th Sunday after Trinity
James 2:1-10, 14-17; Mark 7:24-37
Revd. Dr. Philip Krinks
‘She is only a poor Gentile woman: how can her tears and pleading be enough for him?’
‘This man, this God, this God-Man, has been healing, and not only Jews, but Gentiles. But now he has really gone off the beaten track: to Tyre. No wonder he is keeping his head down! And this woman, this Syrophoenician woman, she has no right to expect anything from him. His food is for the children of Israel – the children of God’s household, not for the gentile tribes, the household animals of God.’
But she knows who she is. And she knows who He is. And so she bows down, she begs, she persists. For Him she is His creature, with all her imperfections, but also with faith, with humility, with persistence.
She is enough for Him.
‘It is only a crumb he can give her: how can it be enough for her?’
She comes to Jesus to ask for her deepest desire, healing for her child. She is like a starving woman, begging for the food which will let her live. She needs, one would think, most of the loaf, needs a large part of what He has to give. And how can she have that, when there are so many calls on Him?
But she has the insight to see that that is not the way things are: a crumb of what He has will be enough, enough to bring back life and health in all its fullness, even where it seemed to be gone for ever. No need then to demand a bigger slice.
The crumb is enough for her
+ + +
‘He is only a deaf, stammering man in a remote wilderness town, how can he be enough for Jesus’
The crowd know him, and they had given up on seeing him cured. His disability would always limit him, they thought: perhaps it would be better just to keep him out of the way. But when Jesus meets him, He takes him away, not to hide him, but to communicate with him and with their heavenly Father.
He is enough for Jesus.
‘But this is only the touch and spittle and sighing of a Jewish carpenter, of this Jesus fellow. How can this be enough for the deaf man?’
‘He is only a man, isn’t he, this Jesus, like us, flesh and blood? Why has he taken him off in there? What is he doing, and how it can help? Curing him isn’t just going to be a matter of touching ears and tongues, you know’…
‘What do you say? He’s cured him? He can hear? He’s talking? Now that is something! Just wait till I tell people what has been done here, for our friend’
And indeed they have something to proclaim: the touch and spittle and sighing of Jesus was enough for the deaf man.
+ + +
‘She is only a poor woman, wearing dirty clothes, cheap clothes at that, who’s crept in at the back of church. How can she be enough for us?’
‘Well, I suppose it’s ok, so long as she stays there, out of the way, and doesn’t take up a seat which someone else needs.’
‘Well, I have to disagree with you there! It’s not our calling to make distinctions, to judge in that way. It’s the poor who are often rich in faith; and some of the rich people we might like the look of on the outside, well, they might not always have our best interests at heart. We won’t go wrong with the royal law: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. Poor and dirty as she is, she is Christ for us. In her we see Christ’s face.’
She is enough for the Church.
‘We are only a little, local church, really, stumbling along. How can we be enough for those who come to us?
‘We have our problems. I know we have a nice building. But we don’t do much really.’
But, still, we are the body of Christ. Our works – done in faith – are enough for Him. And, if we, as His Church, are enough for our Lord, if we know we ourselves to be enough for Him, we will have something to give those who come to us. Certainly they have something to give us. But we have something to give them also: to the rich and the poor, the clean and the dirty, those long in the faith or just exploring it.
We are enough for them.
+ + +
‘I am only a rubbish Christian really. How can I be enough for God?
‘I’m a hopeless mess. I go wrong all the time, so many mistakes, so often fall short of what I could do. I pray for a pure heart and steadfast will. But I am far from having either. I am not worthy even to eat the crumbs under God’s table…..’
But to God, by His grace, I am worth something – no, I am worth everything: worth creating, worth loving, worth dying for.
I am enough for God.
‘It is only bread and wine, really, in one way. How can it be enough for us?’
‘But I suppose when we are together, and we hear the scriptures read, and the Priest leads us in the prayers which make it holy, that changes it. So, then, it is the body of Christ. In one way it is a crumb. But, it is a crumb from God’s table. It is the body and blood of Christ, present with us. Through Christ the way is open for us to be in the very presence of God. To some it is only a crumb. To me, it is my Lord.’
He is enough for me.