Today’s Gospel display’s a rare exchange between Jesus and Syrophoenician woman. Jesus is challenged by the woman when he negatively responds to her plea to heal her daughter. Whether it be the gender dynamic or interplay between Greek and Jew, there is so much present in this short passage worth reflecting on. I would like to focus on the opening lines of the gospel for today’s reflection. At this point in the year, many of us look forward to next week’s break as a time to escape. I imagine that at this point in Jesus’ ministry, he was tired and also looked forward to a break. As soon as he has the opportunity for some time alone, the woman enters into his space asking for something. To make matter’s more challenging for him, she was not even a part of his community. Biblical scholars debate why Jesus responds the way he does however one interpretation is that simply he was tired and had no patience. I imagine most of us can identify with this. As some of us prepare for a break (and even for those of us that do not) today’s reading serves as a helpful reminder to remain present to those who enter our lives. We cannot choose who we bump into or when someone asks something of us, but we do choose our response. Will we be open to those that interrupt our quiet? And if we are unprepared for it, do we still allow ourselves to be changed by the encounter?
—Chris Bauer is the director for the Center for Justice and Peace