“Finding help in God by hungering for God, humbling before God and hoping in God!”
(Based on Gen 2:18-25 and Mk 7:24-30 – Thursday of the 5th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)
A youngster was reading the Gospel story found in Mk 7:24-30
… the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman who approaches Jesus for a healing
… and how the Lord seemed to totally discourage her, by saying: “…it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs”
… and how the woman responded: “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs”
After reading this Bible passage, the young man was pretty much disturbed and spoke to an elderly priest: “I am so very much disturbed after reading this passage! How can the Lord call someone as ‘dog?’ It sounds so discouraging and disheartening!”
To that the priest, with an assuring and calm tone replied: “I understand, son, regarding the apparent confusion on the usage of that word. Without going into any scholarly explanation, I want you to understand this passage with the help of 4 simple words: ‘Hunger… Humble… Hope… Help’”
The young person thought for a while, and replied with relief: “Yes, that’s so true Father. Many times, I get so disturbed by Bible passages that I don’t understand instead of living my life in accordance with what I do understand!
Thank you for teaching me today…
… to HUNGER for God
… to HUMBLE before God
… to HOPE in God
… and thus to find HELP in God!”
Yes, the confusion in the mind of the young man could well be our own as we reflect today on this very powerful Gospel passage of the day.
This Gospel presents the exceedingly deep and determined faith of the woman – who had many reasons to play the blame-game – triumphing in making a deep impression on Jesus, the Lord and Healer!
The woman had many reasons to blame…
… being a Woman: she was given a very low status in the Jewish society
… being a Greek: she was treated as pagans by the Jews and thus inferior
… being a Syro-phoencian: she being a mixed race – half Syrians and half Phoenician – had her crisis of cultural and linguistic identity.
… having a daughter who was possessed with an unclean spirit: she as a mother had her deep emotional struggles of seeing the suffering and misery of her beloved child
And to top it all…
… being called as a dog: she was “apparently being discouraged” by ‘God’ (Jesus) who called her ‘dog’
But the woman was in no way discouraged and dispirited despite these “natural reasons and occasions to blame!” (as would many of us!)
… She had a deep and determined faith!
As it is said, “this is the kind of stuff, champions are made of!”
She understood the meaning of the words of the Lord: “…it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (Mk 7:27)
In fact, the addressing of Jesus as a “dog” would have come as no surprise to the Canaanite woman.
It was a reminder of the sharp distinction that existed, historically, between the Blessed Israelites and the Cursed Canaanites.
The Jews “were” considered as the “children” and the Canaanites (Gentiles) “were” considered as “dogs”
And in every house, the children get fed first… not the dogs!
But, the woman of faith noticed that Jesus had used the word “kunariois” – the word for household pets…
She recognised that He had not used the word “kuon” – the word for other ordinary dogs…
And so the figurative tone set forth by Jesus, found its amazing reply in the words of the Canaanite woman, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (Mk 7:28)
Here was a glorious acknowledgement by the woman…
“Yes, I am a Canaanite, and considered to be a dog.
I do acknowledge that Israelites have a special privilege in the order of God’s grace.
But we too, deserve the Grace of God that is due to all people, in general!
I demand not the privileged bread that is reserved to the mighty….
But, as a household pet dog, just the crumbs of Your grace will suffice in healing my ailing daughter!”
That was indeed, an amazing reply of a deep and determined faith!
Yes, life often gives us many many reasons to play the blame-game
… and we can live being depressed, discouraged and dispirited!
But if we nurture a deep and determined faith…
… we can surely live with much joy and peace, totally depending on Jesus, our Lord and Healer!
Yes, we need to
… HUNGER for God
… HUMBLE before God
… HOPE in God
And thus always find HELP in God!
Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
All the faithful share in understanding and handing on revealed truth.
They have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, who instructs them and guides them into all truth.
The whole body of the faithful. . . cannot err in matters of belief.
This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith (sensus fidei) on the part of the whole people, when…
… from the bishops to the last of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals.
By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (Magisterium), receives the faith, once for all delivered to the saints…