“But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.'” – Mark 7:28
Really, Jesus. Is this you at your best?
First you tell a woman desperate
for the health and healing of her child
she is an animal, a dog.
And when the crowd has brought
a man disabled, hard of hearing,
hard to understand his speech,
did you ask what he wanted? No.
I grant you that we get these stories
at some distance from events.
Perhaps you used a kinder phrase
to tell this woman that you would not help.
Still: not cool.
Perhaps when you withdrew with the
disabled man, you asked (somehow),
he understood (somehow), and so
you knew you’d do what he’d desire.
Still: not cool of Mark to leave that out.
We’re left uncertain from these words
whether a deaf man is as fully human
as a woman of another race
who had to claim humanity of you.
And we could use your clarity amidst
accursed reasons to dismiss
humanity by race, by gender, or
Whatever demon tormented the girl
was nothing to the demons we embrace.
Whatever deafness afflicted the man
was nothing to the way we will not hear.
So Jesus, I must ask you this:
to exorcise the demons we acclaim,
and cure the deafness of our hearts
when we would not be healed.
Not cool: but oh, so needed.
A poem/prayer based on Mark 7:24-37, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year B, Proper 18 (23).
The image is Cristo e la Cananea (Christ and the Canaanite Woman) 16th cent. by Ludovico Carracci, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35849286. Carracci’s depiction of this story has great movement. As is not uncommon in artistic depictions of this scene, there is a dog behind the woman in the lower left corner.