|Weekly Devotional from Ed Black
Text: Mark 7:24-30: "From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 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.
Devotional: The persistence of the Syrophoenician woman, not simply the action of Jesus, is noteworthy in this Scripture reading. Mark doesn't have to give us this much information - the outcome of the story doesn't change, right? Do we really need all of these details?
We're told that the woman, this nameless woman, a pagan, Gentile woman, pushed (or is it begged?) Jesus enough to have him relent and heal her daughter, a future woman.
A woman, not a man, stretched the boundaries and pushed the envelope. One commentary notes, "Her pushiness provides the church with a clear mandate for its mission beyond the bounds of Judaism."
We're all worried, troubled, and deeply saddened by the terror and fear faced by our sisters and brothers in Afghanistan. Does our Scripture reading today remind us of our own mission as disciples of Christ? How can we model the pushiness of the Syrophoenician woman and live out our "clear mandate" for those who need to feel God's presence right now? Who is begging us to reach out a hand?
Prayer: Dear God, Fill us with your Spirit this day and beyond. We pray for all around the world who live in fear, and we pray for the strength, courage, and insight to be the disciple you call each of us into becoming. Amen.
Work cited: Walter Brueggemann, Charles Cousar, Beverly Gaventa, and James Newsome. Texts for Preaching: A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV - Year B. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 502.