Summer in the Psalms is a sermon and written reflection series from the weekly Psalm and associated readings in the Revised Common Lectionary.
Guest Writer: Mercy Perez
In this passage, Jesus responds to the religious leaders who criticize Jesus and his disciples for not washing their hands before eating, in violation of religious law. He tells them that it is not what goes into the mouth that’s the problem; rather “it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person” (11).
Through that statement and through the parable that follows, Jesus explains that what comes out of your mouth – what you say – reflects your internal attitude: “And that’s what contaminates a person in God’s sight. Out of the heart come evil thoughts” (v. 18-19, CEB). Jesus reads the evil intentions of the religious leaders in their words. That’s why he calls them “blind.”
Soon after Jesus travels to another region. A woman who heard about his healings found him there. She may have had some trepidation in approaching Jesus because she was a Canaanite and was not sure how she might be received. Canaanites were the people the Israelites fought against when they entered into the Promised Land; they were also known as worshipers of the Sun God. However, the woman did not let her differences or her fear stop her from seeking Jesus. Her daughter was suffering from demon possession and she desperately longed for her to be healed.
When this woman saw Jesus she called out to him. She acknowledged him as the descendant of David, the promised Messiah. Jesus at first did not answer. Perhaps he was testing her, or perhaps he was testing his disciples, who were urging him to send her away. When Jesus did answer, it was to call out her difference: “I have been sent only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel” (v. 26 CEB). Jesus’ words probably confirmed the woman’s fears of being excluded, yet she was not deterred. She knelt before Jesus and asked again for his help.
Jesus looked into the woman’s heart and saw the opposite of what he saw in the religious leaders. He saw the love, desperation, courage, and humility that motivated her words and actions. He saw that she truly believed who he was, and in his ability to heal. His differences from the woman did not stop him from meeting her need and healing her daughter.
Jesus’ purpose on earth was to bring all who believed in him close to God, regardless of their background. Psalm 67 also shows God’s inclusive love for all of us.
Let God grant us grace and bless us;
let God make his face shine on us,
Let all the people thank you and celebrate.
He judges the nations fairly
God blesses us—our God blesses us!
Ask Jesus to look into your heart to see your greatest need – perhaps one you aren’t even aware of – and to meet it as only he can.
Then, spend a few minutes in gratitude for God’s unconditional love. Ask God to make you a receptacle of his love. As it flows from your heart into your words and actions, you too will be a source of our Father’s Love.