Thank God for this
tenacious lowly “theologian” who comes to us in the form of a mother seeking
help for her daughter in Mark 7:24-37. Her “theology” doesn't originate in
books and study; it's an expression of painfully experienced need and fierce
Jesus commends the woman's reasoning but says nothing about faith -- strange,
perhaps, in light of other passages in Mark that connect faith to receiving
blessings. For some interpreters, this makes the mother mostly a model of
determination or verbal dexterity rather than faith.
But doesn’t her determination make us understand what "faith" really
means? Notice her persistent efforts: (refusing to go away until she gets what
she came for), her hopeful insight (refusing to believe even a tiny speck of
grace isn't out of reach and knowing just a scrap can make the difference for
her), and -- in the end -- her trusting acceptance (her willingness to take
Jesus at his word and journey home alone to confirm her daughter's healing).
Who says things like desperation and tenacity aren't the same thing as faith, when that desperation and tenacity are
brought to Jesus? In Mark, "faith" is hardly about getting Jesus'
name or titles right, or articulating proper doctrine. It's about clinging to
Jesus and expecting him to heal, to restore, to save. It's about demanding
he do what he says he came to do. It’s about KNOWING.
Look for this woman in the back row of church this Sunday. Maybe she's the one
whose reputation discourages her from getting involved or the one who slips out
during the last hymn to avoid having to mix with the churchy
"insiders." But she keeps coming back, fiercely convinced that if
anything we say week-in and week-out is true, then it's got to be true for
her, too. (adapted
from Commentary on Gospel by Matt Skinner)