“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” – Mark 7:28
By Rev Angie Griffin, Grange Cluster Minister, Presbytery of Western Victoria
The Syrophoenician Woman, whose encounter with Jesus is told in Mark 7: 24- 28 is my favourite Gospel character, even if she is unnamed, as is her daughter.
She, who in the midst of this group of people, is a foreigner, a woman without a male head of house, a non-Jew with a girl child that is sick.
In her cultural context all of these count against her. And yet, despite so many obstacles she is determined to pursue what she needs.
This Jewish man Jesus, surrounded as he is by his fellow Jewish followers, who she has heard is a healer, is known to help those in need.
In desperation and despite all that stands against her, she begs Jesus for her child’s sake. What is the response she gets? “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
Rejection, a slur and put down from Jesus!
Deep inside her she has hope. Deep inside she has courage, enough to hang on and take a chance.
Deep inside her she knows that “even the crumbs” of what God provides are more than sufficient for anyone, including her and her child.
Deep inside her she knows she too has as a right to claim this because it is God’s gift to all.
In reply Jesus declares: “Woman, you have great faith!” His recognition of this in her changes him, changes her, changes the fate of her child and I suspect has an impact on those who observed and heard their exchange.
She, who is unnamed, is an inspiration to me, not just as a woman but as a fellow human being. She is persistent, brave, insightful and hopeful. She walks humbly, seeks justice and discovers that God is indeed present and available