A model of intercessory prayer.- Thursday, 5th week in ordinary time – Mark 7:24-30
This series of Gospel reflections are written as a resource for personal reflection and points for prayer. If you want to get a deeper Biblical insight into the text, click this link https://www.pottypadre.com/right-from-the-start/
In the previous parable Jesus made it clear that food can’t defile a person. Now he wants to challenge another old age belief; that race also cannot defile us. The next three miracle stories will take place deep in Gentile territory. Jesus will move from Tyre on the Mediterranean coast to Sidon, and then eastwards by way of the Sea of Galilee to the area known as Decapolis (Greek for ten cities). All of these places were dominated by Gentiles.
The people of the region of Tyre and Sidon were the traditional enemies of the Jews. This was once the home of Jezebel, Elijah’s enemy (1 Kings 16:31). Tyre and Sidon inspired the ire of the prophets (Ezekiel 26:15-17; Zechariah 9:3). It is remarkable then that Jesus would visit such a place, except that he was not here on a staycation but he came with a specific purpose; to break down the barriers that divide people, to save people not to exclude them.
It is here, that he is recognized once again and this time he is approached by a Syro-Phoenician woman. Phoenicia is the coastal plain of modern-day Lebanon. “Syrophoenician” links this woman with Syria and Phoenicia.
No self-respecting Jew would be found dead in Gentile land, yet here is Our Lord ministering where civil society of his time would not be found dead in their tracks. He is approached by a Gentile woman of another race. While most of us have trained our eyes to pick up what divides us, Christ sees an opportunity to draw people to himself. Yet this narration is hard to swallow for Jesus seems to be so harsh with his woman.
I want to focus on the woman, not on the seemingly harsh words of Jesus to the woman; which by the way has a perfectly good explanation. (see https://www.pottypadre.com/right-from-the-start/ ) While no self-respecting Jew would be found mingling with a Gentile, no self-respecting Gentile would have wanted to ask a Jew for anything, much less beg. And here she is begging not for herself but for her daughter; she has bowed down at his feet; her desperation is evident.
There is so much to speak of this woman. She is humble, full of faith, fervent and even feisty. Yet she is modest, respectful, rational and relies on mercy of God. Also In this Gospel, on several occasions Jesus refers to himself as Lord (2:28; 5:19; 11:3; 12:36), but this is the only place where another person calls him “Lord.” It is ironic that the person calling him “Lord” is a Gentile woman rather than one of his disciples.
Jesus does not acclaim her faith as he does in so many other miracles. He is just moved by the person she was and for her determination. This was a mother in need of a miracle and if she had to lose every ounce of her self-respect, she would have done it a million times over just to see her daughter well again. Her determination is rewarded. Her petition answered. A Gentile woman becomes the model of intercessory prayer.