Thursday February, 10
Scripture: Mark 7:24-30
Do you ever feel “put-off” by the Lord? The Gospel today tells us the only occasion in which Jesus ministered outside of Jewish territory. (Tyre and Sidon were fifty miles north of Israel and still exist today in modern Lebanon.) A Gentile woman, an outsider who was not a member of the chosen people, puts Jesus on the spot by pleading with him to show mercy to her daughter who was tormented with an evil spirit. At first Jesus seemed to pay no attention to her, and this made his disciples feel embarrassed. Jesus treated this woman like this not to put her off, but rather to test her sincerity and to awaken faith in her.
What did Jesus mean by the expression “throwing bread to the dogs”? The Jews often spoke of the Gentiles with arrogance and insolence as “unclean dogs” because the Gentiles were excluded from God’s covenant and favour with Israel. For the Greeks, “dog” was a symbol of dishonour and was used to describe a shameless and audacious woman. Matthew’s Gospel records the expression “do not give what is holy to dogs” (Mt 7:6). No doubt, Jesus spoke with a smile rather than with an insult because this woman immediately responds with humour and faith: “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs”. Jesus praises a Gentile woman for her persistent faith and for her affectionate love. She made the misery of her child, her own and she was willing to suffer refuse in order to obtain healing for her loved one. She also had indomitable persistence. Her faith grew in contact with the person of Jesus. She began with a request and she ended on her knees in worshipful prayer to the living God. And now we can see nobody who ever sought Jesus with faith whether Jew or Gentile was refused his help. Do we seek Jesus with expectant faith?
Lord Jesus, your love and mercy knows no bounds. May we trust you always and never doubt your loving care and mercy. Increase our faith in your saving help and deliver us from all evil and harm. Amen