Article | August 18, 2017
Lectionary Reflection: The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Psalm 67; Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28
There’s a familiar phrase in today’s reading from Isaiah: “a house of prayer for all people.” For many of us, this is a closely held value about what Grace Cathedral is, and what it aspires to be. We hope and strive for this to be a place of radical hospitality — where a warm welcome is offered equally to all, stranger and friend. Some days, that striving has its challenges.
A woman stands outside the circle where Jesus and his friends are talking. I love her audacity, and her willingness to be loud in pursuit of what she most wants — healing for her daughter. The world around her has defined her as unchosen, unclean, powerless and disruptive, but that has not silenced her. Her love is strong enough to stop Jesus in his tracks, as he prepares to give her another “no.” She speaks the truth of her heart, and his understanding of his calling is enlarged.
When the Gospel invites us to witness this “aha” moment, it suggests that we need not be ashamed of our own need to stop, look and listen, and to expand our understanding of whom we call family and how we make others feel welcome. I hope that I can learn to listen better for that woman’s shout. I hope that I can learn to shout that much louder when love needs a voice.
Carol James has been part of the cathedral community for over a decade. She has served as a co-mentor in the Education for Ministry program. She currently leads the evening prayer providers in our Jail Ministry and is a cathedral staff member.