November 19, 2019
Scripture: Mark 7:24-26
Jesus left that place and went into the region of Tyre. He didn’t want anyone to know that he had entered a house, but he couldn’t hide. In fact, a woman whose young daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit heard about him right away. She came and fell at his feet. The woman was Greek, Syrophoenician by birth. She begged Jesus to throw the demon out of her daughter.
Thought for the Day: Jesus was a Jew, and Judaism was always in conflict with its neighbors and other religions. It’s hard to be yourself when there are other influences, including some who would rather see you dead. Jesus had a very interesting approach to the other. He did not shy away from the Greeks or the Samaritans. He engaged them, even seeking them out. This woman that approached Jesus in this story from Mark was Greek, and it’s noteworthy that Mark includes her specific ethnicity: Syrophoenician. The story of their encounter has been debated by most every scholar and preacher throughout Christian history. What I find interesting is how Jesus treated her once he made the decision to heal her daughter. He didn’t ask her to believe in him or to change her ways. He didn’t even reference her faith or lack there of. Her quick whit pleased Jesus, and he responded by telling her that she could go home for her daughter had been made well. Jesus did not seek to convert or get her to commit to seven basic tenants of a religion. He just healed, and seemed to enjoy the engagement – the surprise back and forth. Maybe it’s a bit of a reach, but I find this to be an enticing model for how we approach people who are from a different tradition or religion. At the end of the day, we do whatever we can to make sure everyone is healthy. I don’t believe you can justify withholding the most basics staples of life because of a disagreement. Once the basics of Maslow’s Hierarchy are met, then engagement can begin. Follow the lead of Jesus who appeared to be delighted when the woman called him to task. How much better would our world be if we made sure everyone had the basics – food, medicine, clean drinking water, security and access to education. And once that was covered, we could converse and debate and maybe even enjoy some good bantering. Like Jesus, someone unexpected might challenge us in a way that calls us to task.
Prayer: People are different, and so often our differences have given way to fear that has provoked hate and violence. Forgive me, Merciful God, when I am too quick to allow my insecurities to rule my convictions. I trust in your love, and if that love is all I believe it is, then I should feel comfortable in engaging others. And if the engagement includes love, then I trust it will do whatever you need it to do. Amen.
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Rev. Bruce Frogge