Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said 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.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. (Mark 7:26-30)
In the verses leading in to this passage, Jesus, after having answered criticism by the Pharisees of his disciples’ lack of ritual hand washing, went to a house in Tyre, a non-Jewish city, and did not want anyone to know he was there. Nevertheless, a Gentile woman, ignoring the gender and religious barriers of the time, came to him, fell at his feet and begged him to drive out a demon in her daughter. Jesus told her that it was not fair to feed the children’s (Jews’) food to the dogs (non-Jews). Jesus’ dismissive statement to this woman is surprising to us today. Does the woman’s clever reply that even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs suggest that God has used her to remind Jesus that God’s kingdom of faith, hope and love can include people outside the Jewish faith? Jesus acknowledges her statement and tells her to go home to her daughter. When she arrives the demon has left her daughter!
God, thank you for including all of us in your kingdom and for your healing power. Grant us wisdom, courage, and love to live, serve, and witness in our diverse community.
Leta and David Barry — Blessed, prayerful seekers