Daily Reflection for Thursday, February 13, 2020
Peace and Blessings, Friends and Parishioners,
We encourage you to reflect on Thursday’s readings at this link:
If you prefer to use your own Bible, the readings are:
First Reading: 1 Kings 11:4-13
Responsorial: Psalm 106:3-4, 35-37, and 40
Gospel: Mark 7:24-30
Our reflection on Thursday’s readings:
She replied and said to him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Mark 7:28
This reading prompts the notion of “distinction” to float to the top of my curiosity. I’m not referring to the idea of excellence setting something apart but more the notion of difference or contrast and the separation into groups according to characteristics. Because we’ve marinated in the concept of distinctions our entire lives, it should be no surprise that they become a natural part of our human need to make sense of things, to group people, ideas and philosophies together so as to align ourselves with those that we relate to and distance ourselves from those we don’t. It never ceases to surprise, however, how erosive these distinctions can be regarding our approach to one another. (Among so many others, race, sexual orientation, politics anyone?)
There are many descriptions of a mother’s love and most of us can share first-hand accounts of its power and influence. Considering the distinctions of that time that represented obstacles for the Syrophoenician woman (gentile, foreigner, woman,) I’m struck by the determination and the depths of faith that drove her to seek healing for her daughter. Compared to Mark’s account, in Matthew’s version of this story, despite her plea for mercy, the disciples begged Jesus to “send her away.” Jesus had, after all, been maneuvering a Jewish world. In order to acknowledge the prior claim of the Jews to the ministry of Jesus He reminded her in Matthew’s Gospel that He was sent only to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Her seemingly cheeky response to His suggestion that it wasn’t right to take food from the children’s (people of Israel’s) table referenced the household routine where children were fed first. Any leftovers were given to the dogs under the table and her faith made it known that even the scraps were good enough to achieve healing for her daughter. It brings to mind the Roman officer’s faith that we repeat during every celebration of the mass. “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
Just as His words did several verses before today’s Gospel in contrasting the law and Pharisee’s interpretation of the law regarding distinctions between clean and unclean food (Mark 7:14:15,) His actions to travel into pagan territory and foster unity personified his message of eroding distinctions between Jew and Gentile.
In what area(s) of our lives do we allow for distinctions to impede our progress toward reaching the Kingdom of Heaven?