Today's Reading: Matthew 15:21-28
And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." (Matthew 15:27)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This week in Lent, let's give up trying to impress God. Look at me! Look at how I try! Look at my faith! Look at my church attendance! Look at my good life! God should answer my prayers because of who I am or what I can do! Away with all that! Jesus teaches that He comes to us and helps us and saves us because that's what He does, not because of something in us or about us.
When Jesus calls this Canaanite woman a dog, notice that she doesn't protest or complain or argue or get upset. She owns it. "Yep. That's me. A dog. And I'll be a dog so long as that means I can get crumbs from your table, Jesus." See what her faith talks about? It's not about her and her believing. It confesses Jesus and His goodness.
Of course, it's much more than crumbs that fall from Jesus' table. His table gives us the very Body and Blood that were given and shed on Calvary for the forgiveness of sins. At the Lord's altar we who have nothing to impress God with, who are nothing but dogs, really, come before God to lay a claim on Him based on His own promises. Dogs get crumbs. Sinners get salvation. That's how it works with Jesus--not because we deserve it or can get His attention the right way, but because He's Jesus and that's what He does.
There is a great temptation to think that there is some reason in us that Jesus should give us His mercy. Maybe He sees that we have good intentions. Maybe He knows that we have enough faith. But what this story of the Canaanite woman teaches us is that Jesus' work is to get rid of all that boasting in ourselves. He teaches us that we have nothing with which to come before God. But in Him, we have every promise of God, for sure. Baptized, absolved, fed with the feast of His table, we have every claim upon God's promises in Jesus and for Jesus' sake. When you give up trying to impress God, you'll see that He can't be more happy with you than He is in His own Son. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
O God, our heavenly Father, seeing that of ourselves we have no strength, keep us both outwardly and inwardly that we may be defended from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for Lent 2)