A Syrophoenician woman will interrupt Jesus this morning. She’s an outsider on two counts: a non-Jew and a woman now alone with a man.* And she knows that she of all people has no right to make demands on Jesus, so she does what she has to do- she falls at his feet, and she begs. She’s got nothing to lose; she’s lost it all already, she’s desperate, her life is in shambles.
Jesus seems uninterested and insists that he has come only for the children of Israel, not for dogs. She is undaunted by his very blunt metaphor.
“Fine, then, call me a dog if you want. But even dogs get the scraps. Please, Lord, give me a scrap, just a scrap of your mercy.”
Jesus is outdone by her forthrightness, won over; his heart stirred by her anguish and her need. He is transformed in the encounter. And he reveals himself as amazingly, humanly relational.
What do you want? Perhaps the message this morning is to take this woman’s lead and be a bit insistent, even desperate. Jesus is never ever unaffected or unresponsive.
* Donahue & Harrington, Sacra Pagina: Mark, p. 237. Photograph by Brother Brian.