Thursday of the 5th Week in Ordinary Time [II]
I Kings 11:4-13 + Mark 7:24-30
February 13, 2020
“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 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.
This sharp language from Jesus gives us pause. Perhaps within that pause, however, we have the space to meditate on a particular point.
When we engage in meditation upon Sacred Scripture, a point can be an image, an idea, the person of a saint or a biblical personage, a metaphor, or even—as in this case—a single word: that is, the word “dogs”. What does Jesus mean to signify by this word “dogs”? No synonym can completely capture another word’s meaning, but in this case, we might consider Jesus’ word “dogs” as meaning “outsiders”. How can we reflect on the word “outsiders”? What are the outsiders outside of?
In the case of this woman to whom Jesus speaks, she is outside the Old Covenant. But the Lord, in dialoguing with her and recognizing her faith, prepares for her the New and Everlasting Covenant that He will establish, not just for one people of the earth, but for all peoples, and all who have put themselves outside of God’s love through their sins.