Daily Gospel Reflection: Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Bishop Robert Barron
February 8, 2024
Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Mk 7:24-30
Jesus went to the district of Tyre. He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it, but he could not escape notice. Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him. She came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied and said to him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
*United States Conference of Catholic
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, in today’s Gospel, a feisty woman engages Jesus in an argument. It is one of the only scenes in the Gospels where someone cajoles Jesus into doing something he wouldn’t ordinarily do.
There is a long tradition that stresses the woman’s perseverance in the face of the “test” that Jesus sets for her. There is another reading that shows how the woman exemplifies the proper attitude toward God, a combination of humility and boldness, of deference and defiance.
But the reading I want to emphasize is one conditioned by the philosophy of the “other.” The Old Testament speaks insistently of the “stranger, the widow, and the orphan,” those who have no one to care for them. They press upon us even when we would greatly prefer them just to go away.
We the Church are the Body of Christ, the physical presence of Christ in the world. And so people come to us demanding food, sustenance, friendship, love, shelter, liberation. So often we are tempted to do what Jesus does initially and what the disciples do: tell them to back off.
But the whole of the Christian life consists in remembering the suffering and need of the annoying other.