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Mark 7:24-30

The Word of God

From there Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go--the demon has left your daughter." So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Mark 7:24-30
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • This admirable Gentile lady was nothing if not persistent. At first Jesus effectively said “No” to her request that He cast the demon out of her troubled daughter back at home. But she wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. Deep down she knew that if she kept pestering Him, she would ultimately be successful.
    • Sometimes God keeps us waiting so as to deepen our faith. In the long run what He wants is always best for us.
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    • Here is one of the great women of the gospels. She is focussed intensely on Jesus and on what she needs from him. She has no concern about herself but only for her little daughter. Jesus is no match for her: she won’t go away, she beats him in the argument, she breaks down his resistance. And she trusts him.
    • Take a few moments to walk home with her: how is she feeling as she nears her house? Watch her as she rushes to the child’s bedside—and finds the demon gone. This story has a lot to teach us about real prayer.
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    • When the expected Messiah or Saviour arrived from heaven, some people thought he was coming to bring judgment and correction. But Jesus said that he had come to heal our relationships – with God our heavenly Father and with one another – which were broken. For us, the emphasis was to be on interaction like that between child and fond parent.
    • This woman of non-Jewish background can teach us something about praying – because, in her spontaneous interaction with Jesus, she takes the attitude of a trusting child. She even dialogues with him and is persistent – in exactly the way he himself had instructed us to do when, in his teaching about how to pray, he told us that we are to be insistent, “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”. (Luke 11:9)
    • The depth of the woman’s faith is an example to us. She has not presented her daughter to Jesus, but in her eyes the prospect of long-distance healing presents no difficulties. Jesus sometimes said that he met deeper faith among foreigners than among his own people.
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    • Is Jesus being deliberately rude to this gentile (non-Jewish) woman? Her witty retort, however, delights him, breaks down his resistance and shows he is open to persuasion. Is she teaching him a lesson?
    • By writing about this delightful episode, Mark wants to show that the concern of Jesus was not confined exclusively to the Jewish people.
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    • Alone in all the gospels, this non-Jewish lady gets the better of Jesus. A decisive woman, she goes into action as soon as she hears about him. She has a strong sense of herself: his dismissive remark does not diminish her. She sticks to what she wants, the cure of her little daughter. The dialogue teaches me something about the directness of prayer: it is to be an interpersonal encounter.
    • It seems that the early church needed reminding that it was meant to reach out to the gentiles. Hence this tale is recorded. Pope Francis today is telling us that everyone must be an evangeliser, reaching out to the alienated. Jesus’ horizons are enlarged in this scene: perhaps mine can be widened in my place and time?
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    • The prayer of the woman was not answered immediately. Her persistence shows Jesus how serious she was. Jesus, forgive me for my trivial requests. Help me to listen to my prayers that I might learn what is really closest to my heart.
    • The humility of the woman is touching: she asked only for the crumbs but she trusted it would be enough. I pray, with trust, asking God to give me this day 'my daily bread'.
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    • This is a brave and determined woman! She risks her self-respect and dignity to save her sick daughter. She is the only woman in this Gospel to win an argument against Jesus. She got him to change his mind about the scope of his ministry.
    • Lord, may I have courage to do what I can so that the gifts which women bring to the Church may be more fully appreciated. Without the full engagement of women the Church is like a bird on one wing.
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    • Let me imagine this encounter, Lord. I believe you were smiling most of the time. You had taken what we call now a break in the country, away from the clamorous Jews. This demanding woman had heard about you, and ruined your planned retreat. When a mother is worried about her daughter, manners and consideration go out the window. At first you tease her -- everyone knows that Jews do not mix with Gentiles. She is unabashed and comes back hard, turning your metaphor about puppy dogs on its head.
    • Lord I would like to talk to you as the Syrophoenician did, not hesitating to bother you with my needs, and trusting in your goodness and your sense of humour.
    • Jesus' words can seem harsh, but it is important to realise that Jewish writers sometimes described Gentiles, unflatteringly, as "little dogs." However, the Gentile woman is not put off by what Jesus says. She is able to best Jesus in verbal repartee, adapting Jesus' response to suit her desire to have her daughter cured. The story of the Gentile woman, an "outsider", challenges us against setting limits on those who can be called sons and daughters of God.
    • Jesus admired the woman's persistence in looking for a blessing for her daughter. I demonstrate my sincerity in prayer by my persistent trust in God.
    • I pray for the humility I may need to change my mind.