Today’s Gospel: Mark 7:24-30
First-century Jews had such a contempt for Gentiles like the Syrophoenician woman in today’s Gospel that they would call them “dogs.” It was understood that the blessings from the New Covenant were to go first to the Jews and after the Resurrection, the blessings would extend to all nations.
We see this clearly in today’s Gospel reading. When the Gentile woman approaches Jesus to heal her daughter, Jesus says, “Let the children [the Jews]first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs [Gentiles]” (Luke 7:27). In fact, when this same story is recounted in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells the woman, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). In other words, Jesus is telling the woman that He needs to heal and bring the Jewish people to Him before the Gentiles.
Instead of becoming angry at the epithet, the Gentile woman shows tremendous humility and faith. She perseveres, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (Luke 7:28), and Jesus heals her daughter.
I read today’s Gospel, and I picture all of us Catholics as the children at the table, eating to our hearts’ content. As members of the Body of Christ, we benefit from the gifts of the Church, the Eucharist, and all of the other sacraments. There’s a temptation to quarantine ourselves from the outside world and hoard the gifts for ourselves. When we don’t offer the dogs under the table even a scrap of our blessings, we become sick. When he was still a cardinal, Pope Francis warned the Church faithful to avoid this temptation.
“We need to come out of ourselves and head for the periphery. We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a Church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a Church becomes like this, it grows sick. It is true that going out onto the street implies the risk of accidents happening, as they would to any ordinary man or woman. But if the Church stays wrapped up in itself, it will age. And if I had to choose between a wounded Church that goes out onto the streets and a sick withdrawn Church, I would definitely choose the first one.”
Does my everyday life attract others to join at the banquet table—even if it’s just for a scrap? If not, what do I need to ask God to help me change about myself?
Lord, please help me to open up the doors of your Church and find those seeking even just a crumb of your Love. Somehow, use me to show others how much you love them and help me to always share Truth with Love. Bless me with the humility and perseverance of the woman in today’s Gospel. May I always seek you and trust in your Divine Mercy. Amen.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Catherine Boucher