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CALL : +685 24414
FAX 20429
5th Floor John Williams Building
Tamaligi, Apia

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Wednesday 21 April
Bread at the table

 

 

Read Mark 7:24–30

[Jesus] said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ (verses 27–28)

 

Church can be a place of sanctuary for all kinds of people. I think of a young mother under new pressure from social services, a man recovering from cancer treatment, a woman who recently lost her husband. We all come to church for different reasons, impelled by yearnings for health and wholeness of which we aren’t always even aware. Once, when I was photocopying in the church office, a young man ran in to the small room, terrified, to hide from a group of boys chasing him! Sanctuary, indeed.

 

The Syrophoenician woman was no different. She wanted healing for her daughter, who was sick. She had heard of Jesus. She fell at his feet and begged him to help. Because we often forget Jesus’ Jewish identity, this story can be quite shocking: Jesus at first pushes the woman away because she is not from Jesus’ own people. In Matthew’s version of the story, the disciples also help keep the woman away from Jesus (Matthew 15:23).

 

In part, the Syrophoenician woman reminds us of the importance of welcoming others. But she also reminds us to keep in touch with our own need for God, our own yearnings and terrors. As people gathered around Jesus, we are not primarily the gatekeepers. We are people like this woman: worried parents, cancer survivors, widows, even teenagers seeking a dark corner. In a mostly Gentile Church which often forgets its Jewish connection, it is not a bad thing to be reminded of our reasons for seeking Jesus. We are the outsiders who are graciously taken in – taken in, and welcomed by the one who gives us bread from his table.

 

 

 † God of all, we are all beggars at your table. And you welcome us as a generous host. Help us always make space for others. Amen