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Speaking to the Soul: Jesus in Hiding

Speaking to the Soul: Jesus in Hiding

Week of Proper 12, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]


Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 69:1-23(24-30)31-38 (morning) // 73 (evening)
2 Samuel 5:1-12
Acts 17:1-15
Mark 7:24-37

In today’s gospel, Jesus learns that it’s sometimes more exhausting to hide and to hoard than to open ourselves to others. At the beginning of the passage, we catch Jesus in something of an introverted moment. Upon his arrival in a place called Tyre, “He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there.” Perhaps some of us can relate to the practice of shutting the doors of our homes or our offices and pretending we’re not inside!

No such luck for Jesus, though. The gospel tells us, “he could not escape notice.” Soon, a woman whose daughter is very ill finds Jesus and asks him to save her child. But just because a closed door couldn’t cloister Jesus doesn’t mean that he can’t find other ways to keep this woman away. The next barrier that Jesus erects is a combination of ethnicity and scarcity. You see, this woman is a Gentile, and Jesus claims that his mission is limited to his fellow Jews: “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to dogs.” There’s only so much of Jesus to go around, and he draws the line at people outside of his community.

The Gentile woman knocks down this closed door with a bitter reply: “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” She might be a dog in Jesus’s eyes, but she’s not leaving until she gets her share of his healing power. Something about this encounter breaks Jesus open; he praises what the woman has said to him, and he pronounces her daughter healed. Then, he continues his travels and his mission of healing.

I’m sure that the ministries of Jesus and his disciples were exhausting at times. Like all human servants of God, they needed retreats and sabbaths, limits and boundaries. But another dimension of Christian discipleship is to realize that an even deeper exhaustion comes from hiding and hoarding ourselves, especially from those who differ from us. Sooner or later, they just might shame us into opening our hearts and our hands a whole lot wider . . . and flood us with grace and relief.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


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