September 5, 2009


23rd Sunday - B
Mark 7:31-37

How do I approach Jesus?

Last week, as we returned to Mark's Gospel, we heard Jesus' invitation, "Hear me, all of you, and understand" (Mark 6:14). Meanwhile, some Pharisees and scribes - the religious leaders of Israel, had difficulties accepting the message of Jesus. Ultimately, they would not recognize or accept Jesus for who he was.

Today, we find Jesus in the territories of the Gentiles. There, he had first helped a Syrophoenician woman who "begged him to drive [an unclean spirit] out of her daughter" (7:26). [1]

Her humble attitude is also the attitude of the people who brought the deaf man to him. They "begged" him (7:32). And he healed the man.

The Gentiles did not have the covenant God made with Abraham, the Law God gave to Moses, and the words God spoke through the prophets. Yet, they recognized Jesus for who he was. The Syrophoenician woman even called him "Lord." Their humility, the awareness of their nothingness, and their realization that Jesus alone could heal them opened their ears to hear Jesus' word, their eyes to see the Divine Presence, and their mouths to proclaim God's glory.

[1] The story of the Syrophoenician woman, found in Mark 7:24-30, is not used in the Gospel readings for Sundays of this year B.

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