I’m sure that in many pulpits today, in attempts to be edgy and with the zeitgeist of the world, preachers will use this text to promote blasphemy. Which is terrible, because when you allow yourself to hear it, it is the most beautiful witness. If you ask “What is repentance?”, or compare this woman to Peter – the “little faith” one – you see a great witness of faith. That is what this sermon attempts to do. Put this episode in its context and allow us to understand better both faith and how repentance is the ongoing act of faith.
Matthew continues his pairing of an explicit teaching with an indirect teaching. The actual lectionary only read Matthew 15:21-28 which is the indirect teaching – a living example of the direct words Jesus says to the Pharisees. The question is two-fold: what makes a person unclean which is the negative way or saying what makes a person one of the Children? First Jesus points at the 10 commandments or the moral law. Trespass of the moral law, coming out of the heart, is what defiles a person. With the Canaanite woman we have everything on the outside that would defile, but her heart is right, even with the hard teaching that salvation comes from the God who ordered her people’s destruction. Out of her heart comes confession and faith. This is what makes children. The bread that falls to the dogs would be enough, as the Canaanite woman believes, but God doesn’t leave us under the table, he invites us to sit.