Gospel Reflection – Thursday 5th week in Ordinary Time (8 February) – The Children’s Scraps
Fr Paul Gooley reads today’s Gospel from Mark (7: 24-30) in which a gentile woman born in Syrian Phoenica seeks out Jesus to beg him to cure her daughter. Fr Paul says this Gospel begins an important section of Mark’s Gospel. He is writing for a largely gentile audience, which is why he explains Jewish customs; in the incidents which follow Jesus is dealing principally with gentiles. At a superficial reading of this Gospel it might seem that Jesus is downright rude to the Syro-Phoenician woman: he implies that she is a ‘dog’, a contemptuous word commonly used by Jews for gentiles. But to one familiar with the oriental world he is rather provoking her; it is like the bargaining which goes on in the market – a game enjoyed by both sides. The woman shoots back a smart response, and Jesus grants her request. It is not unlike the scene of Jesus and the Samaritan woman teasing each other (John 4.8-24). It is a valuable reminder both of Jesus’ humour and of his frank and open relationship with women. For Mark the incident is also an important opening of Jesus’ mission to gentiles. Fr Paul notes today’s Gospel Lesson…Pope Francis reminded us recently not to lose our sense of humour and we are reminded of the same thing through today’s Gospel.