It is an old saw that actions speak louder than words. For two weeks now, the end of chapter 6 and beginning of chapter 7, Jesus has been trying to get the pharisees and his disciples to break loose from the notion that God is judging people based on what they eat or sabbath observance, or other actions we do or things we eat. He wants them to see the centrality of faith. No one does what God wants. We cannot. We are broken. A broken TV does not give you a nice clear picture of the show you want to watch, not matter how hard it tries. It just cannot do that. Jesus will demonstrate the centrality of faith to his disciples today, hoping to pierce their and our twisted and darkened hearts. As he does this, one has to remember that Jesus’ actions speak louder than his words. This is good news. As we have been reading for the past two weeks, the words of Jesus have condemned, surfacing the problem which lies in the heart. At the same time, the actions of Jesus save people from the problem of their very being. If we read this text in isolation from the prior weeks’ readings, the full impact of Jesus’ actions is diminished. But in the context of what he said, they become significant. He has spoken the Law, he has done the Gospel. Actions speak louder than words.
Jesus draws out of the Syrophoenician woman her astounding confession of faith. Here is a woman as far from clean as you can get, a spiritual descendent of Jezebel in the Old Testament and the mother of a demoniac. Not only has she come from the wrong people, she has fulfilled every stereotype. Then he opens a man’s ears and loose his tongue so that he can speak the praise of Jesus and God that are indicative of another sort of heart than the one Jesus speaks of earlier in the chapter. This is the tongue loosed to praise God because Jesus has opened the ears to hear. God puts something other inside the man’s heart.