Monday, August 15, 2011
For All Peoples
This Church is on the Mount of Olives across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem. It is called "Dominus Flevit" (The Lord Wept.) It is near the place where Jesus wept because his own people did not realize who he was. It is also called The Church of All Nations. In Isaiah 56:7 the Lord says, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples." In the preceding passage God says that eunuchs and all foreigners are to be welcomed in the temple. No one is to be excluded. I think Jesus would weep also to see how far we are from showing such unprejudiced love.
In Matthew 15:21-28 I am impressed at how truly human Jesus is and how much a Jew of his time and place. In his prejudice toward a non-Jewish woman, he first ignores her, then says he came only for Jews, and then in harsh words tells her, "You don't take the children's food and throw it to the dogs."
The woman's reply is immediate, "Yes, but even the dogs get to eat the scraps that fall from the master's table." I can't help but think that Jesus must have laughed as she cleverly shook him out of his prejudice. He praises her boldness, "Woman, you have great faith!" Jesus rises above his prejudice and heals this foreigner's daughter.
I find it helpful to think of racial prejudice as a feeling that is morally neutral. Only when I act on it to segregate and discriminate against a group does immorality enter the picture. It is very difficult to recognize my own prejudices. Easier to notice others'. It is encouraging to know that I can count on Jesus living within me to help me rise above my prejudices and treat all people fairly.