‘Right’ from the start- Thursday, 5th week in ordinary time- Mark 7: 24-30

Everything seems wrong about this narration. Jesus has left Galilee alone (or so it seems). He enters a house in Tyre, a Gentile region and He is quite probably residing in a Gentile home. He encounters and dialogues with a woman, who at that time was most certainly considered the wrong gender for a self-respecting Rabbi to be seen with. She is of the wrong race and wrong religion and has traditionally been the enemies of the Jews and finally she has a daughter who is possessed. For any Jew, just about everything was wrong and yet in God’s eyes just about everything was right.

You must remember that the Gospels are not biographies of Jesus but a post-resurrection faith narrative. The principal purpose of the Gospel is not to tell us what Jesus did and where he went but to give us an understanding of the theology and rational behind the mind of the Gospel writer in presenting the historical Jesus.

St Mark is writing to Gentile Christians in about the year 67AD. This was a community that was made to feel ostracised by the Jews and their Jewish Christians brothers who looked at the Gentiles Christians like they were some lower life form who ought to have fewer privileges.

It was a known fact that a Jew would not walk into Gentile territory not only for the fact of being defiled but also because they would be attacked. Jesus walks in alone and it is clearly Mark’s agenda to show that Jesus’ ministry was meant to include all. Yet astonishingly, the kind and compassionate Jesus seems to be rude and insulting. Was he play-acting in order to test the woman’s faith as some interpreters surmise? After all it was well known that the Gentiles were referred contemptuously by the Jews as ‘dogs’ and Jesus seems to use the same analogy.

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