“CONVERSATIONS THAT MATTER”. (Matthew 15: 21 – 28)

Greetings in the wonderful name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We give thanks to the Lord for being with us all the time, throughout our journey with him and with one another.

Once again it is that time of the year when we rededicate ourselves to Christ, recommitting ourselves to what God wants done to make a difference in our homes, communities and throughout the world.

I am intrigued by the stories of the anonymous women in the bible who crossed all boundaries to engage Jesus in conversations that matter as is the case also with the woman with a flow of blood (Mark 5:25), the bent over woman (Luke 13:11), the forgiven woman (Luke 7:48) and the Samaritan woman (John 4).

Can we, this time around, look at the story of the Cannanite woman, Matthew 15: 21 – 28 once again an anonymous woman who stops at nothing to represent her family situation to Jesus? The woman who courageously engaged Jesus in a conversation! The woman who courageously represented her daughter through a conversation with Jesus! Confronted with life and death issues, whether of a personal, family or societal nature, all the women mentioned above had a reason to draw Jesus’ attention to a meaningful conversation. We all know the outcome of those conversations. These are to me conversations that Matter. Conversations of substance.

The Cannanite woman, a mother, was troubled. Her little daughter was suffering terribly from demon-possession. Like many women in the bible, she is not called by her name. Her status is not made known. Nothing is known about her relatives, neighbours nor friends. Only she and her demonic possessed daughter are introduced. We do not know whether she was married, a widow or a single mother.

She came crying and fell at Jesus feet, begging Jesus to drive the demons out of her daughter. She was begging him for mercy. She was begging him for the healing of her daughter.

Both she and her daughter were ethnically categorized as the Canaanite. Undoubtedly marginalized because of both her gender and her race. She was also economically excluded because of her class. Being a woman in a Judean context, where a man would wake up every morning and pray “Thank you God that you did not make me a Gentile, Thank you Lord that you did not make me a woman.” This disqualified her. She could not represent herself to Jesus in a Judean context. She was aware of this reality but in spite of all this she was brave enough to start a conversation that matters. Her daughter was sick.

This story highlights how women, marginalized as they are, have throughout history courageously negotiated their way through difficult situations and in this case the healing of a loved one. Women of courage are capable of speaking out, creating an environment for conversations that matter.

According to the story, Jesus and his disciples had retreated far to the north for some peace and quiet after attending the crowds. This woman showed up and disturbed the peace with her cries for help in healing her demon-possessed daughter. Jesus’ unresponsiveness was unusual. The disciples desired to get rid of the screaming woman and appealed to Jesus to send her away. Jesus spoke to them saying “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The disciples did not respond and the woman continued to engage in a conversation, begging him to help.

Jesus’ answer to her petition is puzzling and some say that it was a harsh racist remark: “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” Mark puts it this way: “First let the children eat all they want for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” Up to this point the woman has been ignored, looked upon as a nuisance, and clearly rejected. She could have just walked away angry but instead she offers a response to Jesus. She is demonstrating great courage. She must have been thinking of her daughter back home already imagining her free of the demons. She was desperate to re-write her daughters’ script and so doing re-writing her own script as she may have been known as “the mother of that demon possessed girl.” She was determined to move from the dominant problem saturated story into a preferred reality for both her daughter and herself. She wanted a life that is free of the demons. Nothing could stop her. No barriers could prevent her from achieving what she wanted done. Women have what it takes to start meaningful/profound conversations to make sure that what has been does not compromise what should be or what can be.

There are many conversations, even within the UPCSA, that require women to stand up. The little girl is demon possessed. The Cannanite woman emerged from an underrepresented group. Jesus welcomed an increasing participation of the gentiles, of women and children, and of other generally marginalized and at risk groups. We may have been excluded yesterday but today offers everyone the opportunity to negotiate her way out of frustrations. Jesus is here. He cannot enjoy quiet time when we are so challenged with issues that matter so much to us, our children and the nation. We need a conversation with him.

Engaging in conversations that matter with Jesus will liberate our fellow women, free them from suffering, from pain and infliction, from trial and tribulation. The Cannanite woman was the voice for her voiceless daughter. We must become the voice of the voiceless women underrepresented groups. We must negotiate space for the marginalised.

We must be the face of the faceless women. The Cannanite woman created a platform for herself to engage Jesus in a conversation that matters. Nobody created this platform for her, she created it herself. We are in an even better position, the space and the platform in homes, our communities, nationally and internationally, in our churches has already been created by those women of great courage that have gone before us. Women participation is wanted and needed at all levels. Women’s conversation with the Jesus of Nazareth has delivered this changing landscape in our country.

The Cannanite woman did not see any barriers. Nothing could destruct her. She knew exactly what she wanted. The fact that she was a woman talking to a man of Jewish origin, a man with a history of looking down at women, who could have easily done as he was brought up, did not deter her. She pressed on to claim what was rightfully hers. A place within God’s project of saving the world!

Would you please just look back and think of a day/a time you had a meaningful/profound conversation with Jesus on behalf of someone else. The conversation that was about that child headed house hold in your community! A child who goes to school hungry every day! A woman who cannot even step out of her house for the fear of being judged! A woman whose child is on drugs! A woman whose children have died of HIV/AIDS! The woman who approached you pouring her heart out about an issue she wouldn’t dare talk about! Think of the women who have not slept a wink for days crying the whole night! How about a conversation with Jesus? It is all about the ability to cross boundaries and have the conversation that matters. May I wish you all the best in all your endeavours and in all you contributions to conversations that matter.

May God continue to bless you and your families.

Zethu Xapile
General President -- February 2015

Joomla! Debug Console


Profile Information

Memory Usage

Database Queries