There is a lot to related to in Mark 7:24-37. Its not often that I feel like Jesus, but I can related to the Son of Man wishing to take a break from the hustle and bustle (I say that as I stretch between the gap between camps and school beginning, thus finding myself working full time and being full-time mom at the same time). It makes me wonder, what was in Tyre? Did Jesus go there specifically because it wasn’t a Jewish region. Jesus Christ, Superstar, hiding out amongst strangers.
And yet, they find him. Specifically a Syrophoenician, Gentile, woman. She is (of course my cynical side says) unnamed. And her daughter is in need of help. You can feel the woman’s desperation in the bare details. And then Jesus does it, he compares the little girl/or the mother to a dog. It hurts me. Did Jesus just call her or her daughter a b***? Right after proclaiming that we are not impure within, Jesus rejects the Syrophoenician woman.
Then something amazing happen, the unnamed woman argues with Jesus. Does she change his mind? Does he appeal to his Godly nature? Does she remind Jesus who he is? What is going on here? Its such a rich text, and so laden with queer theology, I almost dare not touch it. But the gospel is present here, the good news is that the power dynamic is overturned. The expected answer is transformed, into grace. The demon is incidental, the female/foreign/queering of power is not.
Aren’t there crumbs of grace for the dogs? (And who can’t spare some crumbs for the cute puppies anyway).
Then Jesus goes on to Sidon–towards the Sea of Galilee.
Again I’d like to know why there? Or is God driving Jesus hither and thither with little explanation rather like the Tardis moves the Doctor?
Art of Tardis Here
Jesus is immediately brought a deaf man who has a speech impediment. Jesus hides away with the man and touches his ears, puts spit on his tongue.
Then Jesus sighs.
And says Be Opened (to a man who can’t hear) and the ears are opened.
With a breath God created the world, and with a sigh Jesus heals it.
This sigh is no doubt the sigh of God, the wish for everyone to be whole, the exhaustion of being asked to heal over and over again.
But its also the sigh of hope, the breath/inspiration/healing of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus sighs. What a human sound. My husband and I sigh, we sign in happiness, exhaustion, hopelessness and worry. When in doubt, we breathe.
When I’m in a good place I turn my breath into prayer, breathe in the Holy Spirit, breathe out the stress. But oftentimes my sigh is just a expellation of air, a sound of my complete and entire humanity, an expression of those feelings and thoughts I’m having trouble putting words around.
Then he tells everyone present NOT to let people know what he is doing, and in the typical fashion of the entire Gospel of Mark, the more Jesus tries to keep himself a secret, the more people tell others about him. There is no secret God, even when Jesus is trying to take space, to be among strangers and to just be, his Godhead follows him.
Who is this man who casts out demons and makes the mute to speak and the blind to see? Ways to explore this further are definitely available in Isaiah 35:4-7 and Psalm 146.
Where are you this week in the RCL? Are you pursuing Mark or concentrating on another text. Are you approaching this text to explore Jesus as human or God? Are you look at why people follow Jesus? Do you think Jesus changed his mind? How do you interpret his sigh? Let us know where you are this week in the text!
Pastor Katy Stenta is the solo pastor of a bigger-on-the-inside Small Church in Albany New York, and is a co-founder of TrailPraisers Inclusive Worshiping Community. She has 3 boys Franklin (10), Westley (8) and Ashburn (6) and her husband Anthony, a librarian. She loves to read and play with her children.
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