Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lenten Mercy~Meditation: The Love of Jesus Beyond Boundaries

Note the scene within the scene - the child's sick room off to the right

Then he left that place and went away into the territory of Tyre. He found a house to stay in, and he would have liked to remain unrecognized, but this was impossible. Almost at once a woman whose young daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit heard of him, came in, and fell at his feet. (She was a Gentile, a Phoenician of Syria by nationality.) She begged him to drive the spirit out of her daughter. He said to her, "Let the children be satisfied first; it is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." "Sir," she answered, "even the dogs under the table eat the children's scraps." He said to her, "For saying that, you may go home content; the unclean spirit has gone out of your daughter." And when she returned home, she found the child lying in bed; the spirit had left her. Mark 7: 24-30

Then he left that place. This of course is the geographical place, but we might say it's also the place of argument with the religious leaders over ritual things. Jesus moves on from all of that. Twenty-three verses of arguing with religious leaders who are already suspicious of Jesus, if not already set against him - we might call that a place. 

Jesus wanted to remain unrecognized, but this was impossible. In Mark's Gospel Jesus often requires people to be silent about what he's done for them. It's called the Marcan Secret. He knows we often misinterpret or get it wrong, so he tries to keep things under wraps as long as he can. Jesus also likely knows that if he is well known, his enemies will set themselves against him even more quickly. 

Almost at once a woman whose young daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit heard of him, came in, and fell at his feet. It doesn't really matter what the child's ailment was - someone was in trouble and that was enough for Jesus. There are two troubled people in this story: the mother and the daughter. The girl was young, Mark tells us. No other religious leader or teacher or philosopher ever made children as important as Jesus did. This needs to be very much part of the Christian teaching: in all things, children first.

This woman is a Gentile, a Phoenician of Syria. This is a long way of saying she isn't Jewish. All the more reason for Jesus not to be talking with her and a set up: how vast God's kindness is. No one is left out!

She begged him. I have witnessed this begging prayer often, especially as a hospital chaplain. A wrenching prayer. Archbishop Anthony Bloom wrote: "Don't pray until you feel something." 

And then there is this wonderful banter between Jesus and the woman. I think he was goofing on her when he used the word dogs. It was, and still is, a common insult in that part of the world. Jesus was drawing her out! If he wasn't interested in her, he would have sent her away.

Jesus recognizes she's not Jewish and lets her know that what God is offering through him is for the Jews first. But she's astute and heard Jesus say the word first, thinking, "Well then, I don't mind seconds." 

Jesus said to her, "For saying that, you may go home content..."  It seems she's passed the test! She gets the best miracle a mom could ever hope for - a healed child! And from a distance!


  1. We must learn to pay attention when God draws us out. Someone has to be first, but God will get to us all. Be patient and have faith in God's love

  2. Love knows no bounds. Jesus tries to teach us, but we forget to listen. Than you for helping us to understand the meanings of these Gospel readings Father.

  3. I have never thought of Jesus as testing people before he would help them.

  4. Like asking, "Do you really want this?"

  5. Like asking, "Do you really want this?"

  6. Love those who can hear you when you are quiet and who can see you when you feel invisible, for those people hear your heart and see your soul. Whether they are a friend, family member, or love... Never fail to let them know they matter to you