Daily Reflection – 2/14/19
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 Syro-phoenician 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.( Mark 7:24-30)
Today’s Gospel presents a most disconcerting scene. Falling at Jesus’ feet, a non-Jewish woman begs him to drive a demon from her daughter. Jesus responds as he did. How can we possibly explain this seemingly heartless response from Jesus?
There have been many thoughts written on this. I ask is it possible that Jesus unreflectively responded as he had been conditioned to respond by his traditional Jewish upbringing? God chose the Jews from all the peoples of the world to be God’s own chosen people. Does Jesus’ Jewish upbringing and education prompt his curt response?
That may not be too far-fetched. We Christians steadfastly assert that Jesus is indeed fully human and fully divine. As such would he not be receptive and sensitive to his cultural conditioning? Does his initial spontaneous, unreflective response simply echo his life-long, small town, rural Galilee conditioning?
I don’t know. But note that Luke does tell us that “Jesus advanced in wisdom, age and grace before God and man”(Lk 2:52). Now observe what happens next. Jesus says to the woman,
” The demon has gone out of your daughter.” The woman returns home and finds her daughter’s demon gone!
Jesus’ direct personal encounter with the non-Jewish woman transforms him and affects his world view. Jesus no longer sees a Jew or a non-Jew. Jesus sees a human being, a child of God in need, a neighbor! And Jesus responds as a compassionate neighbor!
This interpretation has significance today for our current world. We seem to be labeling groups of people in ways that undermines their basic identity as fellow human beings and children of God. The labels vary but the labels surely include nationality status (refugee, immigrant – legal and illegal) and religious affiliation (Jewish, Christian, Muslim).
Is today’s Gospel inviting us to drop our prior conditioning and our labels and to allow the Spirit to unite us with the disadvantaged and displaced persons of our world as fellow human beings, as children of God, as neighbors? Are we, like the Good Samaritan, being invited to respond not to labels but to persons — to our neighbor?
Prayer of The Day
Lord, I pray that I might have the same level of faith and desperation when I come to you in prayer. May I not see that my answered prayers are based on my goodness but rather see grace in every blessing that I receive. Thank you for being so good to me.
What is the “demon” in our lives that we are asking Jesus to cast out today? I invite you to spend some time today pondering that question! What will you ask Jesus for today? Jesus is waiting for you!