Fr Paul reads from Mark’s Gospel (7: 24-30), in which a pagan woman begs Jesus to heal her daughter, saying ‘even the house dogs under the table can eat the children’s scraps’.

An important section of Mark’s Gospel now begins because Mark is writing to a largely Gentile audience, which is why he has been explaining the Jewish customs.

In what happens next, Jesus is dealing with the Gentiles.  We may think Jesus is rude towards the woman who comes to him asking for help. Effectively, it sounds like he is calling her a dog. This was an insult commonly used by Jews towards the Gentiles but, if you are familiar with the Oriental world, Jesus is provoking her (like the bargaining that goes on in a marketplace).

Fr Paul says, we see in this Gospel, the back and forth that is going on between Jesus and the woman; and this is enjoyed by both sides. As we hear, the woman shoots back a smart response and Jesus grants her request.

In this Gospel we are reminded of Jesus’s sense of humour and his, often, frank and open relationships with women.  For the Gospel writer of Mark, this episode is an important opening for the mission of Jesus among the Gentiles.

For our reflection, Fr Paul asks us to consider, ‘Are my relationships with others the same as the relationship between this woman and Jesus? Are those relationships open and honest or are some of our relationships damaged because of the hurt we may have inflicted on each other? How are the various relationships in our lives?’