Faith of a Pagan Woman

Mark 7: 24-30
Gen 2: 18-25 / Psa 128

For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.
(Mark 7:30)

It only takes a “scrap” of faith
To see God’s wonders when we pray;
God hears those who don’t hesitate
To seek His help without delay.

Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet He could not keep His presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about Him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at His feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone (Mark 7: 24-30).

Reflection

The Syrophoenician woman believed Jesus was the only one who could cure her daughter, and somehow she had managed to force her way into the house where our Lord had hoped to seek some privacy from the maddening crowd. Even God, after all, in His human state needed some moments of rest. Worse, it was not customary for a woman of stature (Greeks then were regarded to belong to a higher social status) to approach a spiritual leader like Jesus – much less a pagan (whom the Jews considered unclean) woman, lest she be regarded as a prostitute. It is not surprising therefore that Jesus regarded her visit as obtrusive, and so initially reacted in a derogatory way. “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs” (Mk.7:27). Our Lord must have really been offended by her impropriety to have used the word “dog” to refer to the Greek woman’s tribe. But the Syrophoenician woman’s reply was so self-belittling that she wisely captured Jesus’ heart: “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps” (7:28). Touched by her humility, Jesus gave in to her request, “For such a reply, you may go. The demon has left your daughter” (7:29).

This reading about our Lord’s encounter with the Syrophoenician woman has given us a glimpse of the human nature of Jesus. It has also taught us that when we seek God’s help in prayer, there must be no hesitation, no doubt, but full of confidence and perseverance. At the same time, we must submit to God in humility, acknowledging our weakness and total dependence on Him. And most important of all, like that Syrophoenician woman, we must have complete faith that in His great love, God will grant our prayer.

Dear Jesus, most compassionate, keep us strong in our faith, and help us share it with all people we come in contact with in our life, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Hindu or pagan; for you have shown us in today’s Word, that all may inherit Your kingdom. Amen.

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