The Language of the Kingdom of God – Reflection for Trinity 14, September 5 2021

From there Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Mark 7:24-37

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Two stories which on the surface are about healing but are also about other things too.

Scripture tells us that there is a woman with a daughter who is sick. We don’t know their names. We do know that they are foreigners, Gentiles, by birth Syrophoenician, by religion Canaanite. For this, they are despised by the Jews. They cannot be recipients of the promises of God. Yet the woman has both courage and faith. Jesus’ reputation goes before him and she wants him to heal her child. Imagine his surprise. Jesus is approached not only by a woman but a foreigner at that. Even in translation we hear how rude he is: “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” The woman could have taken offence but her need, and that of her daughter, is paramount. She is tenacious and filled with faith. She seizes an opportunity and in doing so she teaches Jesus an important lesson about inclusion. Jesus’ mission extends to all who have faith. We are told that the little daughter is healed yet we remember the story not for its healing miracle but for what it teaches us about God’s love for all people, regardless of who we are.

The deaf man who has a speech impediment is by virtue of his disabilities also on the edge of Jewish society. In this miracle we see not only a physical healing but a spiritual healing too. This time it is his friends who have faith. Such is their faith in Jesus, the cure is immediate. The man’s ears are opened and his tongue released. He can see, hear and speak about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. He is restored to the community, a life transformed by the love of Christ.

Faith, inclusion, healing and love. Where and how do we find ourselves living the language of the Kingdom of God?

Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector

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