February 9th, 2023

The Gospel according to Mark (7:24-30)

Jesus went to the district of Tyre. He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it, but he could not escape notice. Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him. She came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied and said to him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

Reflection: Anyone who is a follower of Jesus and is familiar with his words knows there are times when the beauty and truth of his teachings bring great comfort and hope. Today is not one of those days. However, if we listen with an open heart, use the gift of our intelligence, and rely on the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, readings like today’s gospel will provide lessons as great or greater than those that bring us peace and comfort.

Like today’s gospel there are other things that Jesus said that make us uncomfortable such as Luke 12:51 “Do you think I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Or Luke 14:26 “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” And then there is today’s doozy when he responds to the Greek woman who begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. Each of these passages, and more, can cause us great anxiety and confusion because we do not expect such language to come from the person we have come to recognize as love incarnate.

Jesus knows how difficult it is to one, get our attention, and two, get us to a place where we can be taught the mysterious ways of our relationship with him and each other. In a world that is dominated by systems that separate us, we become numb or apathetic to each other’s plight. Jesus takes the bull by the horns when he addresses the woman seeking healing for her daughter with language one would expect from someone who rejects an outsider, in this case a gentile. Her reaction is not one of hurt or shame but one that reminds us that there is no one outside of the compassion, mercy, and love of God.

Jesus often shocks us, gets to that raw part of our being then uses that moment to bring us to the reality that, as it says in Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the LORD.” Our challenge is to find the limits of our human capacity and push beyond in an effort to grow in knowledge and love of God. Then we can see beyond what this world reveals and see with the eyes of our hearts where grace makes it possible to experience heaven on earth.

Action of the day: Use a resource such as a study bible, a reflection on today’s gospel (besides this one), or the internet to research this encounter between Jesus and the Greek, Syrophoenician woman. There is so much we can learn if we just dig a little. Then in a quiet moment reflect on what you have learned and see how it can apply to your life as a disciple of Christ.

Audio Reflection:

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