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Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Reading I Kings 11:4-13
Gospel Mark 7:24-30

“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”

St. Mark the Evangelist tells us that a Greek woman—that is, an outsider—came to Jesus and “begged” Him to help her daughter. This woman, despite not being a Jew—despite not being among that people of the Covenant, who had been waiting for the Messiah to come—nonetheless cried out to Jesus for help. But what happened when she cried out to Jesus for help?

Jesus essentially calls the woman and her daughter dogs! He says to this outsider, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” The “children” Jesus is referring to are the children of Israel, the ones the Father sent Him to teach, while this woman is an outsider, a “dog”. But why is Jesus talking this way?

Scripture scholars tells us that our English translation “dogs” doesn’t fully capture what Jesus says. The actual word is more gentle, and specific, meaning “puppies”: something adorable, if pesky. The woman’s response to Jesus shows that she knows what Jesus is up to, and is willing to play along.

God knows you better than you know yourself. God demands faith from us, even when we believe we have none. He is willing to “pull” our faith out of us—we might even say that He is willing to test us—in order to purify our faith. Jesus knows what sort of faith this woman has. He is willing to draw it out, because without faith on this woman’s part, He will not work a miracle. Pray for the sort of confident faith that this woman has to banter with God and to recognize that your being an outsider is not an impediment to the grace God wishes to give you.