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Thursday – Fifth Week – OT1
Readings: Gen 2:18-25; Mk 7:24-30.
1/ Reading I: NAB Genesis 2:18 The LORD God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” 19 So the LORD God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man. 21 So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, 23 the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. 25 The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.
2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 7:24 From that place he went off to the district of Tyre. He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it, but he could not escape notice. 25 Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him. She came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” 28 She replied and said to him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” 29 Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
I. THEME:The dignity of woman
The Vietnamese refugees are divided between the two styles: whether they should follow the Western style which put the order as followed: lady first, children, dogs, grass and lastly men, or the Vietnamese style which considers husband as a master and wife as a slave. The most important thing isn’t about to be equal; but about how to bring happiness for their family. Both the two above styles lead to chaos in the familial life. According to the Western style, if a man is classified after children, dogs and grass, then how could he have dignity and power to lead his family and to educate his children? This is certainly not in God’s will. According to the Vietnamese style, a wife is only regarded as her husband’s maid. Many women are forgotten and treated unjustly. This is also opposite with God’s will. In the Letter to the Ephesians, the author gives us the perfect style when he said, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord; for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:22-25).
Today readings concentrate on the role of women. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Genesis reported God’s creation of the first woman and His purpose in creating her is to assist her husband. In the Gospel, the Phoenician woman patiently overcame the two obstacles: being a Gentiles and pride, to ask Jesus to heal her daughter.
1/ Reading I: God created the first woman from the man’s rib.
1.1/ God’s will from the beginning: The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.”So the Lord God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name.The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.” According to this report:
(1) God doesn’t want the man to be alone;
(2) None of God’s creatures can be “a suitable partner for him.” This highlights the dignity of the woman: though she is the assistant; but a suitable partner for the man and not under man’s authority as all animals.
1.2/ God created the woman from the man: “So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man,the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”
– Unlike other languages, the Jewish language indicates a closed relationship between a man (ish) and a woman (ishah). This is the reason why Adam cried out, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”
– The passage also shows the marriage is in God’s will from the beginning, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.” The marriage requires one husband and one wife because both of them become one body.
– Before the fall, people have no sense of sin as the author writes, “The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.” This isn’t abnormal; but because both of them trust each other and have nothing to conceal or to hide from other.
2/ Gospel: The Phoenecian woman overcame all obstacles to secure her daughter’s healing.
During three years of Jesus’ public mission, he rarely went out of the Israel’s territory. The reason isn’t because he didn’t want the Gentiles to hear the Good News; but because he already had a clear plan. His duty is to preach the Gospel to the lost sheep of the Israel. His disciples, especially Paul and Barnabas, shall preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Mark briefly reported the case: “And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house, and would not have any one know it; yet he could not be hid.But immediately a woman, whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell down at his feet.Now the woman was a Greek, a Syro-phoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.”
Though Jesus had no intention to preach or to heal the Gentiles, but after witnessing her patience and her way of expressing faith, Jesus healed her daughter. She must overcame at least two main obstacles.
3.1/ She overcame the wall of discrimination: Mark clearly reported her origin, “the woman was a Greek, a Syro-phoenician by birth.” She knew Jesus is a Jew, and according to tradition, she had no reason to come to a Jew and to ask for a favor, because the Jews don’t want to have anything with the Gentiles. The love for her daughter helped her to overcome the wall of discrimination. She humbly came to Jesus and asked him to heal her daughter.
3.2/ She overcame the wall of pride: Overcame the wall of discrimination, she was challenging by a more difficult obstacle, the wall of her pride. Jesus said to her, “Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
Jesus compared her daughter with a dog, and as such, she was also being compared as a dog. How many people could remain and continue to ask for a favor? But this woman wasn’t deterred, she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”Recognizing her strong faith, Jesus said to her, “For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.”And she went home, and found the child lying in bed, and the demon gone.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Today readings demand us to rethink the relationships between the two sexes and between a husband and a wife. We must behave in a way that corresponds with God’s will from the beginning.
– We shouldn’t chase after the modern styles in the societies: “Lady first” in the Western society; “one male is better than ten females” in the Chinese society or “a husband is a master of his wife.” Both male and female are equal before God. All the other styles lead to unbalance in the familial life.
– Both sexes need other and each sex has gifts that compensate other. The author of the Letter to the Ephesians advised a wife must obey her husband, not as a slave obeys his master; but everybody knows there can’t be two leaders in one family. He also advised a husband must love his wife as his own body. This love excludes all selfishness, violence and infidelity with his wife. Only in this model, our family can advance, in harmony and living according to God’s will from the beginning.