Scripture: Mark 7:24-37
Key verse: (28) But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
Reflection: This is a delightfully difficult story. Jesus was trying unsuccessfully to be incognito. A woman came in and bowed down at his feet and asked for his help to heal her daughter. This woman was a foreigner, a Gentile (not Jewish!). She wouldn’t have been welcome in a gathering of Jewish men.
Jesus responded to her “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” Whoa, Jesus basically told her “no” and called her a dog. We struggle to understand. Did Jesus say this, even though he didn’t believe it, because he knew it was what everyone else was thinking? Then he is using this encounter as a teacher, voicing the disciples’ likely response in order to set up a lesson about inclusivity. Or did Jesus say this because he was called to ministry among the people of Israel and the gospel had not yet spread to include the Gentiles? Then this was about the timing of how God would spread the good news to the world. Or did Jesus say this because he was human and he believed it? Then the woman becomes bold and courageous with her challenge. Jesus becomes the student and she teaches him something about the inclusivity of God’s love.
What do you think is going on in this story? We are reminded that God’s love extends, once again, to the outsiders we might choose to avoid or ostracize. Who are the “dogs” in your life and what would it mean for you to offer them some crumbs today? We are also reminded that sometimes we are called to be bold and courageous on behalf of those who are pushed aside and left out. The gospel makes us challenging teachers in a divisive world whenever we claim good news for those who have been marginalized. Who needs to see your example and hear your lesson today?
Prayer: Creator God, your kingdom is bigger than I can ever imagine. When I treat others as if they don’t belong, correct me. Open my fists to share the crumbs of good news with those who need to be healed by it. Give me courage to speak up for those who are silenced. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].