Commentary on the Gospel of
Memorial of Saints Cyril, Monk, and Methodius, Bishop
Today’s Gospel story from Mark is sometimes confusing to people. I remember a time when I was outraged that Jesus would speak to anyone, let alone a woman, like that, calling her a dog. It made me question what could this story really be about? Her persistence in prayer? Maybe. And then when I read it alongside Matthew’s version (Mt 15:21-28 ), I found an invitation to greater faith. Later, when I prayed with the story, I could see how it is showing Jesus expanding his ministry beyond the Jewish people, to the Gentiles. A message that he “came for all.” This was a little more consoling to me as well as a challenge for me to reach and minister beyond my own circle or tribe. There are all good perspective and invitations to continue with in prayer.
But, today when I prayed with the story it took a slightly different turn. I saw the human side of Jesus, tired and wanting to get away for a while. Wow, I can relate to that. And then I noticed Jesus engaging in conversation with someone different from himself. Maybe out of tiredness, he responded to her request a little sharply, some might say out of character? The woman doesn’t back down, she is persistent. But what struck me most today is that Jesus took in her words and changed his mind. In my imagination there was much more conversation than these couple of lines. Jesus was open to her story and her perspective on things. There was more of a dialogue. He considered her argument, changed his mind and healed her daughter. This story spoke to me today about the importance of engaging in conversation with those who have a different perspective than our own. In this story, Jesus was able to receive from another. He did not presume that he had or knew the whole truth. He was open to learning and accepting a different view. In today’s words, I would say he was open to growth. Not even Jesus had it all figured out. How amazing is that?
The last “new” thing that came up for me in prayer was how this story reminds me of the story in John’s Gospel of the Wedding at Cana (JN2:1-12). Here, Jesus also allows another’s perspective to influence his choices. This time, it is Mary his mother that makes the suggestion, does the nudging/teaching. I find it curious that I have a much easier time accepting the movement in this story.
As we continue to reflect on this wonderful story today I invite us to sit with a few questions. Where in our lives is God inviting us to be open to a new/different perspective? Where are we being invited to grow in our faith? Where might we be able to better enter into conversation with others from different walks of life?