Read Mark 7:24-37
There are two healings described in the reading today. Both took place in Gentile territory. Once again, our Lord has traveled to a remote place looking for some time alone, apart from the crowd and their demands. Mark says that Jesus “entered a house, and would not have any one know it; yet he could not be hid.” A Syrophoenician woman, a Gentile, “whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell down at his feet.” What follows may sound harsh and unlike the Lord. Jesus responds to her request by saying, “Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” It sounds as if He is refusing to heal this little girl. However, could it be that Jesus did not want to deny the woman’s request, rather He wanted her to make a public declaration of faith in His ability to heal her daughter? It is not a rejection, rather an invitation for this woman to enter relationship with Him. And He is not disappointed.
It is obvious that Jesus is impressed by the woman’s response. She says, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” She calls Him Lord, and she stands firm in faith on behalf of her daughter. The Lord replies, “For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” Even when it appears that, as it were, the tide has turned against us, we can stand firm in the Lord, knowing that in our relationship with Him it matters not from where we come, or what we have done, in Him there is great compassion.
What a wonderful message for the beginning of this fourth week of Lent. There is hope, and in that we can rejoice. Laetare, rejoice!