Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Send Her Away!

Preface:  Did Jesus really call the Syrophoenician woman who begged for healing for her child a dog?  At first glance, one might think he was rude and insulting to her by telling her it isn't right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs.  This reference is to the fact that his major mission during his short earthly ministry was to the Jewish people and not specifically to the surrounding nations which included Phoenicia.  But if you read between the lines, you will see the loving and compassionate Jesus finding himself unable to withhold responding to the humility, persistence and deep faith of a pagan woman and her little daughter in the grips of misery.

The mom from Phoenicia tells her story:

"I was beyond desperate!  My precious little girl was terrified and completely out of her mind.  I sought help everywhere, but no one was able to bring relief.  I had heard of the great Israelite healer, Jesus, and his miracles.  The Jews abhorred our people; so when word spread that Jesus had traveled into Phoenicia, I found it heard to believe he was actually here.  I set out to find him, asking family, friends and even strangers whether they had seen him

"Finally I found him!  I saw him standing in the courtyard of the house where he and his disciples were staying.  My heart filled with hope.  'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!' I cried as I begged him to heal my baby girl.  At first he didn't answer me.  I turned to his disciples, pleading with them to help me get through to Jesus.  They quickly became annoyed with me and urged Jesus to send me away.  They seemed to read into his silence that he must have been irritated by me as they were.

"At last Jesus spoke.  I was so relieved that he had at least responded, I fell at his feet and prayed, 'Lord, help me!'  He explained to me he was sent only to Israel and that I should realize it's not right to take the children's bread and give it to their little dogs.  The children should be allowed to eat all they want first.  And I knew that.  I knew he had been working miracles only in Jewish regions.  I knew we lived in a spiritually dark and pagan corner of the world.  But he was here in our land, standing right in front of me.  So, I said:  'Yes, Lord, I know.  But even the puppies eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table.'

"As I gazed up at him, looking for even the slightest positive sign, Jesus smiled, obviously moved by my response.  He told me I had great faith and my heart's desire had been granted--my daughter was healed!  Overcome with relief, I thanked him over and over.  Then I ran all the way home and found my little one sleeping peacefully.  My sweet daughter's beautiful tiny face was no longer contorted with stark fear and anguish.  I curled up beside her and wept tears of joy.

"Jesus had crossed the border into our country to get away from tiresome arguments with the Pharisees.  He didn't want anyone to know where he was.  Even though in my desperation I had interrupted the privacy Jesus sought, divine pity crossed physical and racial boundaries that day as Jesus reached out to me, an outsider.  I received bread, not crumbs, from the master's table!"
Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30
(c) Joyce Catherwood 2011

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