Sunday 05 September 2021

Bible Book:

Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ (v. 29)

Mark 7:24-37 Sunday 5 September 2021

Psalm 146


In today’s reading Jesus meets a woman of ‘Syrophoenician origin’, note the reference to both Syria and Phoenicia. In Jesus' day, Syria was a Roman province that included parts of the areas we know as Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel. Phoenicia seems to have been an association of city states, which began on the coastline of what we would call Lebanon but traded so successfully that at one point, cities as far away as Carthage (in North Africa) were described as ‘Phoenician’. Phoenicia was conquered by Cyrus the Great in 539 BC and then suffered the fate of being occupied first  by the Greeks under Alexander the Great and then the Romans. Cyrus is remembered in the Bible as the one who conquered the Babylonians and liberated the Jews from exile; Isaiah 45:1 even refers to him as God’s ‘anointed’.

Jesus is in the region of what used to be one of the great Phoenician cities: Tyre. This is not the first time, (see for example Mark 5:1) and in the rest of our reading he will heal a man while still on his way back to Israel. So, Jesus travelled around Roman Syria and he performed healings outside of Israel, presumably for non-Israelites. Here, it seems that Mark wants to call attention to this. We remember that the Early Church constantly debated whether and how non-Jews could be Christians. The conversation between Jesus and the woman raises the issue (albeit in a way we might find difficult) and highlights her reply. In verse 29 Jesus says, "for your word [logos] you may go." It is possible that logos is meant to mean more than just ‘a word’. Jesus is described as the logos of God in the beginning of John’s Gospel. Another translation might be "for your saying you may go." Whatever we may think of the terms used, Jesus commends the woman’s wit and clearly agrees with her response.


To Ponder:

  • We cannot avoid the fact that Jesus talks about ‘dogs’. How do you respond to the conversation and why do you think he might have spoken like this?
  • The emphasis in this story falls on the woman’s saying, not Jesus' teaching. What might that tells us about the life of faith?
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