Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying.
This Gospel begins with words that call for context. Jesus “went away” and “withdrew.” Went away from where? Withdrew from what?
The context is Matthew 15, and if a phrase might summarize the whole chapter, it would be “What may or may not go in the mouth; what may or may not come out the mouth.”
The chapter begins with Jesus rebuking the Pharisees for their traditions of man. He says, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.” Teaching as doctrine the commandments of men is what should NOT come out of the mouth. Jesus calls these Pharisees plants which will be uprooted, for the Father has not planted them.
What may go IN the mouth? Here Jesus teaches, using mildly graphic language that refers to, um, number two: “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man…whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated.” This lays down the “change in policy” that God’s people may now eat pork and shrimp.
Then Jesus ends the section describing the connection between the heart and the mouth: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”
(Quite interesting thinking about how from “out of the mouth” come murders and adulteries. But again, as we’ve been meditating on these past weeks, the mouth is the source of the word, which comes from the heart. This is a reflection of our divine image, even as Jesus the Word proceeds from the heart/mouth of God. But the parallel sets up the understanding. As God used His Word to bring about His heart’s intention, the good creation of the universe, man uses his word to bring about his own un-creation. Again we go to the proverb, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life; perverseness breaks the spirit.”)
Now we get to the Gospel for Reminiscere with this preparatory set up: What comes out of the heart goes out of the mouth and has the power to create (when that word/doctrine is from God) or to un-create (when that word/doctrine is from man). Also, food is welcome into the mouth.
Jesus is leaving the area behind where words coming out of mouths is the “commandments of men,” that is, where from the heart words proceed that un-create. He withdraws from there and enters the land of Tyre and Sidon, where a Canaanite woman approaches.
What comes out of her mouth? “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David.” This is liturgy, the intersection of objective and subjective faith. That is what SHOULD come out of the mouth! Not the commandments of men by which men attempt to build their own Babels, their own creations, which only end up dissolving the creation with its inevitable murders and fornications. But these words, as we meditated on with the Gospel of blind Bartimaeus, put one at the point of being an object of the Lord’s grace and mercy, and re-creation.
It puts one at the point of being good soil, from which the Lord will plant new plants
But for the time being we get Christ’s silence. Nothing. God’s silence. (More on this in a later devotion.) Nothing comes out of God’s mouth. Wow.
Until it does, and Jesus says the words of creation, “Let it be.” Let it be as you desire. And what did she desire? Mercy from her Lord. Again, that places her among the chaos and void of the first day, ready to be re-created.
Or to jump back to another metaphor, she says words that cause a new plant to bud in the rich soil that was this woman’s faith, the words that came from her heart, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David.” (This incidentally lets us in on what is the “good soil” of the fourth seed in the Parable of the Sower. It’s the soil that cries out “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David.”)
The woman got all of Jesus – all His creative, planting, feeding Person – through faith in the final thing that now should go IN the mouth, the crumb. That bread crumb is the small seed that blossomed in her being granted the desires of her heart, the mercy from the Lord.
What shouldn’t come out of the mouth? False doctrine and words of un-creation. What should come out of the mouth? Prayers of mercy to the Lord, the Son of David (David’s Seed). What may go in the mouth? Food. What does the Lord do with the smallest crumb of that food? Fill it with Himself.