Mark 7: 24-30
Jesus was travelling in the borderlands where, according to Mark, he was looking for peace and quiet. Yet his time for reflection is disturbed by a desperate foreign woman who wants him to heal her daughter.
Jesus does not instantly grant her request. Instead he says that “it isn’t fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs”. It seems that Jesus is talking about his own Jewish people who saw themselves as the children of Israel and in some sense God’s children. The woman has to understand that Jesus’s own people are his first priority.
Some scholars think that the term “dogs” was a disparaging term used by Jewish people for foreigners. If so, this woman has every right to feel insulted. Yet her desperate love for her daughter means she does not let this stop her from pushing Jesus. She says “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs”. She may not like it, but Jesus’ scraps are better than anyone else’s five-course banquet.
At this moment the fate of the gospel rests on how Jesus reacts to this foreign woman. Will Jesus be good news for all people, or just a subgroup of them? Is Jesus going to be the Messiah just for the Jews? Or will he be the Messiah for everyone?
Jesus decides to help the woman because even though she is not a Jew, her answer shows that she has faith in him. You could say that Jesus’ reply to this woman fulfils the Christmas promise: Joy to the World.
Revd. Ken Stokes
as we walk through Advent, open our minds to the way
Jesus accepted and helped people who were very different to himself.
May we see that faith, hope and love can be found among people who are
different from us: strangers, asylum seekers, and foreigners.
Help us to take the risk of reaching out in love as Christ did.
This we ask in the name of Jesus, the Messiah of all. Amen