Good News for the Day, February 8, 2018
Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time (332)
Jesus traveled away from home to distant Tyre. He went into a home (where he wanted no one to know about it), but Jesus could not escape notice. Soon enough, some woman whose daughter had an affliction of uncleanness heard about him. The woman came and fell at his feet. The woman was Greek—actually a Syro-Phoenician by birth—and she begged him to rid her daughter of the demon-driving problem. Jesus said to her, “Let the children of Israel get fed first; it is just not right to take away the food of the children and pitch it to dogs.” She answered him, “Sir, even pet dogs under the table get to eat the children’s scraps.” Then Jesus said to her, “Because you said this, you may go. The affliction has left your daughter.” When the woman went home, she found her child lying in bed, the demon-problem gone! (Mark 7)
This incident comes to you in several versions. All the versions insist on several points that highlight the conversation—the woman is a “foreigner,” Jesus says “no,”—He won’t heal the sick child. I see the Gospel stories as registering a normal predisposition from which Jesus emerges; In the end, it is her faith in Him that wins his consent.
Elsewhere, the Gospels remind us Jesus grew in wisdom, and suggests that the wisdom included the abandonment of wrong, outdated and harmful religious understandings. Jesus developed his humanity! One we get that in our heads—and hearts—, it becomes nature to respond to the world around us in the same way.
In this story, the Good News informs us—surprising perhaps to some—that it is part of the perfection of Jesus, in this case, to change, to grow, to reach a different, improved outlook, a permanent way of seeing: even foreigners form part of his healing mission. His experience in a different culture teaches him something—a shift of gears, a dawn of realization—akin to the awakening that your own little girl has astonishingly become a grown woman!
Jesus discovers new facts, new kinds of people—and new insights within Himself—the Spirit awakening His human awareness—so much like yours—that there comes a time to abandon what you have held so long for a better condition. In this is about your faith—imitating the woman, imitating Jesus—living the growth Jesus did.