The Things That Defile Us: The Syrophoenician Woman and The Demons of Bigotry (Matthew 15)(Proper 15A/Ordinary 20A)
Welcome to Bible Study for Progressives, a show where moderates, liberals, and leftists of all faiths and ideologies come together to discuss scripture, spirituality, and politics.
This show features our own Bert Newton, the author of “Subversive Wisdom: Sociopolitical Dimensions of John’s Gospel.” Bert has been teaching a class called “Parody and Subversion in Matthew’s Gospel.” This is a recording of one of those classes.
In this session, we tackle Matthew chapter 15. The chapter begins with Jesus accusing the Pharisees of “teaching human precepts as doctrine.” He says it’s not the things that go into our mouths; it’s the things that come out that defile us. Then Jesus turns around and calls a foreign woman a “dog.”
Purity rituals reinforced Jewish identity but also lead to division and prejudice. All cultures have purity codes that can also lead to discrimination and abuse. Hatred and violence are systemic evils that infect the human heart and are described as demonic in scripture.
The Syrophoenician woman confronts Jesus and defeats him in a debate. The demon is excised, her daughter is healed instantly,” and Jesus praises her great faith. After his encounter with the Syrophoenician woman, Jesus passed by the sea and went up a mountain where he healed the crowds and feed four thousand men “besides women and children.”
We are to welcome the foreigner and the outcast and treat everyone with respect because God loves them. In the feeding of the four thousand, God welcomes gentiles into the kingdom of heaven. God loves all the nations of the world.
Join us as we consider what Matthew is telling us about purity and bigotry. What do we need to do to overcome hatred? How can we welcome others into the kingdom of heaven?
I hope you enjoy this special edition of Bible Study for Progressives. This is Rich Procida. Enjoy.