Give me a task to do and you might as well consider it done. God has given me some serious organizational skills complemented by persistence and determination to work in a timely manner. Yes, I make lists, mostly in my head, however, sometimes making a list on paper helps me to prioritize them and check them off when they are completed. While being task-oriented is good it can also be a hindrance because when I am focused on a job there are times when I miss what is going on around me. Through the years and many personality tests, I have learned that I can get impatient working with others because they move to slow. There is a lot to be learned from working in a group rather than being self-driven. Working with others provides an opportunity to see the "whole" picture of the entire project along with the "why" of doing it.
This story has always been a puzzle to me. Why would the grace-filled Jesus that we know, and love give this woman such a hard time about healing her daughter?. Each of the gospel writers tell a story of Jesus based on their experience. The Gospel of Mark is focused on revealing Jesus as God's Son. In the first chapters of the gospel, we find Jesus roaming the Galilean country-side, healing the sick, casting out demons and telling stories called parables to help people understand his message. He always did the unexpected by sailing to gentile lands just to heal a man with a demonic spirit. Jesus stepped out of the Jewish norm to restore people who were labeled as unclean and unwanted. He ministered without prejudice so why did his response to the woman seem so harsh? Could he have been exhausted from feeding the 5000; grieving the beheading of his cousin John the Baptist or was he just plain sick and tired of constantly defending himself and his disciples to the religious leaders? Throughout the many stories of Jesus, we know that he tried to spend time alone likely to be restored by God the Father. This gospel story tells us that he went into a house to get away from people so we are not sure how this woman found him, but she did and proceeded to ask for her daughter’s healing. A gentile, an unclean outsider, recognized Jesus and trusted him to heal her.
Is it possible that like so many of us, Jesus so wrapped up in the events of the day that he got distracted from his true purpose to love all people regardless of who they were? And just maybe this tenacious woman could teach us a few lessons on faithful determination and the rewards of being persistent. Jesus did acknowledged her faithfulness and healed her daughter. Are we as persistent as the Syrophoenician woman in our pursuit of healing by God’s grace? Do we pay attention to the people around us even if they interrupt us when we are focused on a task? Maybe doing a better job of “seeing” people could be my focus for the Lenten season. Practice almost makes perfect..