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Reflections on the Gospel September 9, 2012

Mark 7:24-37

24From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 28But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

31Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

What I Am Learning

When Jesus is approached by a Gentile woman he should have ignored her. That is, he should have ignored her if he wanted to be a respectful and respected Jew. First century Jews would have been astonished to see him speaking to a woman - men did not talk to women in public who were not related to them. They would have been astonished to see him get into a debate with a Gentile. Jesus gets into a debate with a Gentile woman. And he loses! She wins the argument.

The messiah was expected to heal the sick, make the lame to walk, the blind to see, and the deaf to hear, and free the people of Israel from the Romans. The anger at the Romans and Gentiles in general was very great. But here Jesus not only loses points on his honor rating he extends God's healing to her daughter.

Next a deaf man is brought to Jesus by his friends. The Decapolis were ten Roman centered cities in northern Israel. It could be that there are two messages going on here. 1) that Jesus continues to check off all the requirements of being a messiah (deaf to hear), and 2) that the people in the Decapolis had to be silent about the truth in order to survive. But with Jesus, the time for silence was over. He made the deaf to hear and speak, and the fearful to hear and speak God's vision for a new world.

I am learning to be less fearful. I am learning that God's love and healing includes everyone.