Reflection: A Turning Point for Jesus
Dear Beloved Community of St. John’s,
This Sunday’s gospel has always seemed to me like an early turning point in Jesus’ ministry. A distraught mother asks Jesus to cure her demon-possessed daughter sequestered at home. Jesus curtly disparages her. She has an immediate, snappy comeback. Jesus relents and cures the sick girl. The overall narrative then proceeds.
This story captivates me because Jesus seems to suggest that his ministry is constrained to encompass only the people of Israel. The mother instead insists that Jesus’ outreach must be universal. I’ve always even imagined Jesus taking a deep breath in the middle of the conversation as the idea sinks in.
Truly, I realize there are myriad points of view on this short miracle story. I’m in the “Jesus learns some significant from the woman” camp; and others believe that Jesus knew what he was going to do, and was merely testing her. Like in most instances where opinions diverge, I think the different perspectives are more helpful in sum, rather than being mutually exclusive. However, I don’t think Jesus—ever a compassionate change agent—would have been cavalier with a deeply grieving, troubled mom distraught about her seriously ill daughter.
Jesus seems thereupon to understand that all humanity is included in the reign of God—including all of us.