Gn 2:18-25; Ps 128:1-5; Mk 7:24-30
With Saint Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes, we bless the LORD! He is clothed with majesty and glory, robed in light as with a cloak. The Blessed Mother was clothed in white encircled by a blue girdle. Also she wore a white veil, and there was a yellow rose on each foot. This mysterious young woman had a rosary in her hand. During the apparition on March 25, 1858 the lady spoke to Bernadette Soubirous saying, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” From these visions onward many faith-filled people have looked to Our Lady of Lourdes for food, healing, and many good things. Indeed, through her apparition and the testimony of a frightened Saint Bernadette the Holy Spirit has renewed the face of the earth. Church leaders have authenticated over 60 miraculous cures, and these events have inspired and strengthened the faith of many from all over the world. As the classic film about this shrine states, “For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.”
Our true blessedness is the fear of the LORD. Not that we are afraid of God, but we stand in awe and wonder at His revelation as the psalm proclaims—“Be still and know that I am God.” We fear the LORD because He is God and there is no other. We fear the LORD because He reveals the way we are to walk, to live a blessed life. Only then will we eat the fruit of our handiwork; blessed shall we be and favored. This life of holiness is compared to a happy and holy family life in our responsorial psalm. We find ourselves living with a fruitful spouse and our children are like olive plants around our table. This way of life unfolds into the blessing of the entire world, and we shall see the prosperity of the New Jerusalem all the days of our life. All who have come to believe in the LORD who made heaven and earth, husband and wife, marriage and children. Such is the blessing from Genesis and unto the ages of ages. Such is the blessing in which we share an the blessing we become because we share in the Bread of Life. This is the banquet that sets us free to live and move and have our being in Christ to the glory of the Father and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The LORD did not take a piece of Adam’s head, so the suitable partner was not to be above her mate. Nor did the LORD take a slice of Adam’s foot, so that the suitable partner was not to be dominated by her mate. Indeed, the woman was created out of a rib from Adam’s side so that she would be his equal. The man God had created was alone, and this was not good for the man. Out of every creature formed out of the ground the LORD did not make a suitable partner. No, the man would not just name this partner; this partner was made out of his flesh, and they were made for dialogue—face to face communication. Only when we approach one another without an agenda are we able to listen respectfully and be listened to respectfully. Such is the intimate conversation that is originally designed for husband and wife. This loving model of communication must be imitated in every mutually respectful human dialogue—between man and woman, husband and wife, Jew and Gentile. This was the respect we hear about in today’s Gospel story. The Lord Jesus learns to listen and respond to the urgent plea of a pagan woman. His ministry of exorcism and healing begins to overflow beyond the borders of Israel.
The Lord Jesus does not stay out of pagan territory. Even though he sees his primary mission to the house of Israel, still he goes to the district of Tyre. He seems to be very careful not to make public his arrival in the town; he enters a house and wanted no one to know about it. However, he cannot escape notice especially by a woman in great need. This unnamed Greek Woman has a daughter with an unclean spirit. She is desperate to help her child. Upon begging the Lord Jesus to help her daughter she grows in faith before his eyes. This woman’s plea is much more urgent than the Woman at the wedding feast of Canna who asked her son to take care of the couple’s breech in hospitality. This Woman isn’t related to the Lord Jesus, and she is desperate. She is a foreign woman; she worships strange gods. She is a Syrophoenician by birth; she probably knows about all the gods and the healing cults of her pagan culture, and these she has exhausted with no healing. However, she believes in the Lord Jesus. Not only does she believe in him in some theoretical or abstract way, this woman believes that the Lord Jesus can cast out demons and that he wants to help even those who are not of the house of Israel. Otherwise, why would he go to the district of Tyre? He knows about those who live there. He knows they are pagans. He also knows that the evil one has a grip on their souls. This grip he has come to end, once and for all, for this woman, her daughter, and all who are lost and under the power of demons in every age and every place.