Bible Readings for 10 December

Today we read: Psalm 54.1–7; Isaiah 32.1–20; Matthew 15.21–28.

Frankly, many of the Isaiah passages set for these days take some reading. In chapter 32 the prophet dreams about good governance and imagines a world ruled by the good and the just. In such a circumstance, the prophet says, goodness would be valued and evil disapproved of. The opposite is perceived to be the actual reality in the prophet’s own day. He further imagines the downfall of the unworthy rulers of his day and economic disaster for those who have benefited from their rule. I wonder what Isaiah would think of the societies and their rulers in our world today.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is a ruler of sorts. (Though not a king in the traditional sense, he receives the title, ‘Lord, Son of David’ from the Canaanite woman and will claim after his resurrection that all authority has been given to him (28.18).) Under his rule, exemplified in 15.21–28, the outsiders and the marginalized are welcomed to the party even if Jesus does seem reluctant about it to begin with. If Jesus is not exactly instructed by the Canaanite woman, he is moved to action by her story.  Matthew has already applied the words of Isa 42.1-2 to Jesus. ‘He will not wrangle or cry aloud . . . He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smouldering wick’ (12.18–21) so he listens to the Canaanite woman and heals her daughter. This is not a long way from the song of Mary featured in the Gospel of Luke and rehearsed so often at this time of year:

His mercy is for those who fear him . . .
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled th hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty. . . (Luke 1.46–55)

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