What happens when Jesus has a bad day? Well he turns very human and insults people and wants to be alone. Jesus has been sowing the word throughout the gentile territories. Crowds have gathered where he has healed the sick and cast out evil. The religious authorities are challenging him about how he practices the faith and what it means to follow God. He wants to get away and regroup. He attempts to take a break and enters a house and didn't want anyone to know. But someone found him. A woman whose daughter is possessed by evil, seeks him out. This woman an outsider among these outsiders,falls to his feet and begs him to heal her daughter. She caught him at the wrong moment. He doesn't feel like being kind and helpful. He doesn't feel like bringing one more group of people into the fold. He calls her a b**** and says his mission is to feed God's children. So not only did he call her a name, but then tells her that she is not part of God's kingdom. There is no way to make what Jesus says nice. He was rude and told her she didn't belong in this new family he was establishing. I wonder what you would have done at that point. Would you have called him names back. Would you have fled at the confrontation? Or would you, from your place on the floor, teach the Holy One of God something? She doesn't let Jesus define her out of the kingdom. She says back to him that even the dogs under the table get scraps, all I want is a scrap. Even if I'm a b***** I don't deserve a place at the table. Jesus hears her. She changes his mind about who is part of the kingdom and his ministry. He learns from her about the boundless possibilities for the spreading kingdom. Jesus changes his mind, he tells her she may go for her daughter is free of evil.
The Call to Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, Day 35From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. Mark 7:24-30
Who is it you have left out of God's kingdom? Is it the mother who brings her autistic child to worship and disrupts the experience? Is it the gay couple who were quickly shown the way back out of the building? Is it the young adult covered with tats and piercings? Is it the slightly smelly down on their luck family? Is it those people - black Hispanic, Puerto Rican, German, Irish... who ever the other is in your place? As you think about God's kingdom, who have you left out? Ask God to place you in the path of someone who will teach you about God's extravagant love. Amen.