Thursday of the 5th Week of the Year

Mk 7:24-30

The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

A concrete example is this story: Bennet Cerf relates this touching story about a bus that was bumping along a back road in the South. In one seat a wispy old man sat holding a bunch of fresh flowers. Across the aisle was a young girl whose eyes came back again and again to the man’s flowers. This time came for the old man to get off. Impulsively he thrust the flowers into the girl’s lap. “I can see you love the flowers,” he explained, “and I think my wife would like for you to have them. I’ll tell her I gave them to you.” The girl accepted the flowers then watched the old man get off the bus and walk through the gate of a small cemetery.

A mother’s love for her child is supposed to be boundless. She will even give up her own life to save her child! In the animal kingdom, we often see this phenomenon. Sadly, though, only human beings practice willful abortion!

Yes, the incident narrated in today’s reading makes us wonder why some mothers even dare to kill their unborn babies! Here, we have a scene where a mother is insulted, likened to a dog by Jesus Himself! She wittily retorted to the insult, showing her confidence in His compassionate heart and healing power. Her faith was rewarded. Her child was healed. The demon was cast out!

Our elders tell us that no prayer goes unheard. If and when our petitions to God are not immediately answered, let us not lost heart. God’s timing is always better than ours. His answer will come. Yes at times, in very unexpected ways. Trust Him always. He loves you more than a mother loves you more than a mother loves a child in her womb! Let us especially pray today for all expectant mothers. Mat they always see in their yet unborn children opportunities of becoming co-creators of the future members of God’s kingdom on earth and co-heirs of Jesus Christ of the kingdom of heaven. (Fr. Flor Camacho, SVD Bible Diary 2004)

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The encounter between Jesus and the woman in today’s gospel presents to us Jesus’ social orientation. The woman hears about Jesus, approaches Him and begs Him to heal her daughter. She is a foreigner, a gentile, a person outside the Jewish community. In the dialogue between Jesus and the woman, He makes a statement that seemingly suggests that His mission is exclusively for the chosen people of God – “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children an d throw it to the dogs.” The woman’s reply criticizes and breaks down the walls of exclusivity indicating that there can be a place for all peoples in God’s plan.

Religion, color, language and economic status have become barriers that separate peoples instead of becoming bridges that enable diversities to become agents of harmony. Alienation hinders interaction and communion. The exclusion of others guarantees security within the boundaries of one’s own world. It is easier to relate with members belonging to the same church who share the same beliefs and traditions rather than expressing the faith with other people who articulate their beliefs in a different way. This is to ensure that one does not encounter opposition in the full expression of one’s faith.

Jesus demonstrates that in spite of the differences surrounding the human situation, one can still show compassion and love which are universal values that can transcend human limitations. Jesus’ approach in his ministry is compassion. He reaches out to all who believe in the language of the heart. He only asks the simplicity of our faith in Him. (Fr. Michale Layugan, SVD Bible Diary 2006)

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LOVE IS THE ESENCE (Mark 7:24).  There is no question that love is the essence of all religions. There is no doubt in our minds that love is the essence of the message of Jesus Christ.  In fact we behave in a not so loving manner, we hear comments like: “parang hindi ka kristyano.” To be Christian and to be loving should be synonymous.

Today, the Lord shows us another facet for what it is to be loving persons.  The first quality of a loving person is that that the person must be ready to be heroic. H is for Heroic. The Lord does not only ask us to love. The Lord asks us to love and be ready to die for somebody. If you and I are still alive, it means that our love is not yet complete because we have not yet died for another. Love is only completed when we are able to give up our own lives, our breath and our blood for love of another person. I do not even say die for a friend. I do not even say die for a person who would say “thank you” for giving our lives for him/her.

The woman in the gospel of St. Mark was a heroic mother. First, she was a woman. In the Hebrew culture women are second class citizens. Second, she was asking a favor for a girl. These two reasons right away make her easy target of rejection. To start with, women were not supposed to talk to men. And then, girls are considered tolerable hindrances to society. So why asked the Lord to heal a girl? To top it all, this woman is a Canaanite. She was not only a Gentile. She was a Canaanite. The people of Canaan and the people of Israel are always at odds with each other. They have always been enemies.  There exists a relationship of animosity between these two peoples. So, the scenario is: here is an enemy, a woman at that, asking favor for a girl. She was a perfect candidate with all the wrong things going for her. Yet for love, this mother dared. She dared to ask.

The second quality of loving, O is for Openness. I’d like to point out another quality of being open. Being open does not only mean being generous. It is not only being willing to receive which is very often our understanding. But a person who is open is also open to be humiliated. This woman was open to the Lord. She was willing to be humiliated on account of what she was asking for. The response to vilification is not defense. The response to vilification is not reasoning out. The healing that comes after humiliation will only be through humility. If somebody humiliates us, it is not to be faced with a lawsuit; it is not to be faced with an explanation. It is not to be faced with an attack in order to humiliate our humiliator.  Humiliation becomes a blessing if it is faced with humility. This woman was willing to be vulnerable. She was willing to be defenseless. The community is filled not when we are strongest. The community is filled when we are willing to be vulnerable to one another. Are we willing to expose all our faults for everyone to see? We can’t help but suspect and ask the question, “If you really knew me, would you still love me? If you really knew my woundedness, the scandals in my closet, my dark secrets, would you still love me?” That woman was trusting enough and willing to be humiliated. That was her type of openness.

H is for hero, O, Openness and last letter is E. E is for Expansive. Love knows no boundaries. Love knows no limits. As St. Bernard used to say: “The greatest measure of love is to love without measure.” If we look at this word, HOE, hoe is asarol, a garden tool that is used to cultivate soil. We cannot use a hoe if we want to dig a pit. We don’t use a hoe to dig a grave. We only use a hoe in order to plant. If only we can be more heroic in loving, be more open in humiliation and face it with humility and forgiveness and be more loving. If only we could love without boundaries and love without limit, then the soil of Christianity will be filled. The soil of Christianity will be cultivated and we will yield good fruits, thirty, sixty and a hundredfold. (Bp. Socrates Villegas, DD Love Like Jesus pp. 77-78)

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♀GF: Why do you love me?
♂BF: I have no reason. .
♀GF: No. Give me a reason. .
♂BF: Oh. Ok. Because you’re beautiful, caring and attractive. .

*Girl was satisfied. Then one day she got sick and look Terribly Thin, Pale and Weak. .

♀GF: Do you still love me?
♂BF: Now that you’re not pretty and attractive do I have a reason to love you?

*Girl Cried. The boy hold her hand and say:

♂BF: Now you Understand? Love doesn’t need reasons. I Love you and still love you no matter what happens. .

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Reflection: A Greek woman went to Jesus to ask Him to drive out a demon from her daughter. What is very significant here is the woman is an outsider, not a follower of Jesus not even a Jew. But with courage and faith she went to Jesus for help, her mind was focused on reaching out to Jesus.

When she finally was able to reach Jesus, she told Him about her sick daughter. Jesus was reluctant at first to help. But she persisted and she humbled herself before Jesus after which her daughter was healed.

We all have our own problems that we carry in our hearts and we surely have brought these problems to Jesus. Let us not lose heart if we have not yet received a response from Jesus. Let us continue to persist, continue to humble ourselves before Him and untiringly beseech His guidance and help.

The woman never gave-up until she got what she wanted from Jesus. So we too must never give-up we must continue to badger Jesus with our humble and persistent prayers. Often times we don’t get what we want from Jesus because we easily give-up. Same as with our ambitions in life; we don’t get what we want because we give-up.

What if we never give-up, what if we continue to persist and humbly ask the Good Lord to grant us our aspirations? (Marino J. Dasmarinas)

Source: mjdasma.blogspot.com/2014/02/my-reflection-for-thursday-february-13.html

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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Thursday of the 5th Week of the Year

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