August 20, 2017
I have preached on this subject but it is important to once again revisit this topic. The gospel for today from Matthew 15:21-28 touches on the horrible reality of discrimination. It is something humanity has struggled with since the exile from Eden. Let’s spend some time reflecting on this very important topic.
Discrimination the word means according to dictionary.com
The act of making a distinction
Treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favour of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.
Making fine distinctions
Let’s make a distinction between making distinctions and the treatment of others based on distinctions.
First, it is not wrong to make distinctions. We as humans have the God given ability to make distinctions between what is good and healthy and what is not good and is unhealthy. For instance, we as humans know that it is good and healthy to eat fruit and vegetables but it is not good and in fact unhealthy to smoke a cigarette. By stating it this way we have discriminated that cigarette smoking is not a healthy choice.
However, we also make distinctions about what we prefer and it is not based on what is good or healthy. What would you rather eat an orange or a lemon? The choice between lemon and orange is based upon preference. Both are from the citrus family and both are good and healthy to eat. Yet, there is a distinction based on taste, shape and colour. One is sweet the other is sour. One has yellow flesh the other has orange flesh. One is round the other is oblong. It is not wrong to prefer a lemon over an orange or an orange over a lemon.
What Jesus is exposing in his own experience with the Canaanite woman is the sin of hate, which is masked as discrimination. Jesus understands that the culture in his day fostered hate of Canaanites and women but most especially of Canaanite women. In Jesus time Canaanite women were considered no better than dogs. This was not just a cultural teaching that Jews were to be preferred over Canaanites. It was a cultural teaching that Jews were to hate Canaanites and treat them as if they were not even human beings. I am sure most of you in the pews are aware of the events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. Those horrible incidents stemmed from the outward expression of hate masquerading as discrimination. What white supremacists and neo-Nazis did was not just morally wrong but a sin. They expressed hate toward human beings who differed from them. Jesus does not excuse that kind of behaviour nor should we. Neo-nazis do not just make distinctions they make hateful judgments.
It is important for us to understand that being unique and different from another is not wrong but expressing hate based on that distinction is more than wrong and breaks one of the two greatest commandments to Love our Neighbour as you love yourself.
What is important to remember is that the sin of hate starts as a seed of fear sown in our heart. Here is a culturally based hypothetical question:
How would you treat a homosexual Indigenous person who was convicted of dealing drugs and murdering someone?
Can you get beyond each of those distinctions and love the person? If so, great keep up the righteous work of Jesus if not then ask yourself how can I change to be more like
Let us pray