- Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
- Psalm 125
- James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17
- Mark 7:24-37
One of the statements we affirm in the Baptismal Covenant, with God’s help, is “to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself.” Today’s readings focus on how faith is shown by one’s actions, especially in showing compassion.
Psalm 125 calls attention to God’s justice. Written during a period of foreign occupations, it is a prayer of encouragement and comfort to the faithful of Israel. The reading from James speaks of right behavior in the treatment of the less fortunate and in obeying the commandments. First, there is the reminder that God’s acceptance of all worshippers who come in faith must also be reflected in the Christian community. No partiality is to be shown to those who have position and influence in the world. Nor is favor to be given to those who can contribute the most to the support of the Lord’s work. In fact, the poor are “rich in faith” and are often chosen to accomplish God’s purposes. We are reminded that we are to love our neighbors in fulfillment of the Scriptures.
The Gospel for today in Mark also reflects the concern for those who are outcasts in the community. First, a local Phoenician woman appeals to Jesus on behalf of her daughter who has an “unclean spirit.” She challenges Jesus’ assumption that he has nothing to give her, but call attention to the claim that Gentiles are God’s children too. In her persistence, Jesus heals her daughter, opening up the possibility that the Gentiles are also to be included in his ministry. Jesus then moves on to Decapolis, where he heals a deaf man in a most unusual way.
Jew or Gentile, clean or unclean – Jesus showed compassion toward all people. In today’s world as Christians, we are to do the same. Today’s graphic is one example of an effort to act and to speak out on behalf of those who might be considered the unclean or outcasts of our society. It challenges persons to penetrate the consciousness of the world, promote education, and elicit responses to deal with the epidemic of AIDS. The pink triangle is a reminder of the badge worn by homosexual prisoners in Nazi prison camps. Many of them, like Jewish, gypsy, and other political and religious prisoners, were murdered because of a silence of indifference to the atrocity. This contemporary graphic (from Donnelly/Colt Customstickers) demands speech and action in behalf of any group of persons who by violence or disease are forgotten.
- How would you characterize the exchange between Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman? What do you think prompted Jesus to heal the woman’s daughter?
- Who are “the children” today? Who are the “dogs”? What does Jesus’ example indicate about contemporary religious practices?
- Why do you think Jesus acted the way he did with the deaf man? Why do you suppose Jesus took the man aside and ministered to him in private?
- What do you notice as you consider both these headings? In particular, what do we learn about Jesus himself and his ministry?
- As you look at all of today’s lessons, what do they tell us about faith?