Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Caught With His Compassion Down

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 motherly love.

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)


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