Sunday, September 6, 2009

He Called Her a Dog...

Mark 7:24-37
"And He was saying to her, let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." Mark 7:27
So Jesus was up in Gentile country trying to fly under the radar. I think it was not because he wanted to avoid people. I think it was simply because he wanted a respite from the endless requests for healing and the public spectacle of being a miracle worker. And being sought out ONLY for that.
I think he simply wanted to get to know a few Gentile folks as people, to have a straight across one-on-one. Without all the pressure and notoriety. Incognito, if you will.
Then a desperate Gentile Mom comes up and there in front of God and everybody she won't let go. She begs. She cries. She gets on her knees. Now everybody can see. It's for the life of her little girl that she pleads. Please!!!!
And Jesus calls her a dog. Well. . . He doesn't really call her a dog. But he lays the conventional wisdom on her that Phoenicians were dogs. Just like Palestinians would be to Zionists today.
She is unfazed. She doesn't want to turn things upside down. She doesn't ask to boot the insiders from their place of privilege at the table. She'd be happy enough with a few crumbs on the floor. She has nothing to bargain with. Not her wealth, her race, her religion or her pride. She doesn't ask to be promoted from outsider to insider, from scum to being privileged. She lays it all there in the dirt at Jesus' feet. She will do anything for the life of her daughter, whatever it takes.
Just like the Mom at the Saturday Market as she beams over her little girl's conversation with the Grandma there who has just sold them matching hats. This Mom would die for her child.
The Phoenician woman in Syrian-held territory is perhaps the only one in the picture who actually gets it that she has nothing with which to bargain or impress God. She doesn't come from a sense of entitlement: "this is my birthright".
Have we ever called someone a dog? Not with our words but with our thinking and our actions, have we made someone a de facto dog?
The literalist approach to Scripture burns the house down here: "Jesus said she was a dog. God said it. I believe it. That settles it." Oh?
Not. The real words of God are spoken by the woman ("crumbs are all I need, and there is an abundance of crumbs") and by the actions of Jesus. A little girl is healed.
Later, a man is given his speech and hearing. He had no bargaining position either--other than deep need.
Because Jesus was willing to see the person, not the label glued onto them or the condition in which they found themselves, people of no status were healed.
Do we see people the same way?

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