7:24 From there he 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, 7:25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 7:26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 7:27 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." 7:28 But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs." 7:29 Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go–the demon has left your daughter." 7:30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
7:31 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. 7:32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 7:33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 7:34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." 7:35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 7:36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 7:37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, "He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
We have two stories to reflect on today; the story of a gentile woman and the story of a man who was deaf. One could not hear the words of God because the society would not let her come close and the other could not hear because he turned deaf.
I heard this story recently of an elderly man who went to look for a good hearing aid.
An elderly man stopped at a hearing aid center and asked about prices.
"We have them from $25,000 on down to $1.50," the salesman said.
"What’s the $25,000 one like?" asked the elderly man.
"Well, it translates three languages and is the latest in electronics," the salesman replied.
"And what about the one for $1.50?" the customer asked.
"It’s this button attached to a string," said the salesman, pushing it across the counter.
"How does it work?" asked the customer.
"It doesn’t," said the salesman, "But if you put the button in your ear and the string in your pocket, you’ll be surprised how loud people will talk."
One of the hardest thing in the world is to listen. Listening is letting go of our ego. Listening is not simply a skill. Listening is a spiritual attitude. If we cannot hear, then we need some hearing aid that works than make people speak louder.
Sometimes are gentiles in our midst because we haven’t heard their stories of life. Some are outcasts among us because they haven’t been listened to. Life is terribly lonely when one feels not heard by the other. Won’t you agree?
When we get louder, you know for sure, someone is not hearing. Isn’t that the truth? When somebody before you gets louder and louder, he or she does not feel heard. That is the storyline here. When Jesus passed by somebody from the crowd shouted at him. They want the attention of Jesus.
Are there are dogs under the table?
Who is unworthy of God’s loaf of bread? Or the crumbs from under the table? I am yet to find one who is not worthy of God’s table. The woman gave a quick answer to Jesus when she said, “even the dogs eat the crumbs from under the table” if only you will let them and that is enough to satisfy the hunger of those who are hungry. And He did. He did let her eat not just from under the table, but from the loaf that was set aside for the chosen people. God spread more chairs around his table and there was 12 baskets left over.
There is evil in the world. But the biggest of all is the evil that we do not see in our own hearts that keeps people as dogs under the table. It is our own shadows that are scary and painful than those under the table
When Jesus opened the ears of the man away from public view and when Jesus shared the bread reserved for the chosen with the gentile, Jesus did something that humanity failed to do. One respect the privacy of the other and second, challenge the identity of the oneself.
Today if we are left with a dilemma because we cannot hear the cry of those left under the table and feed them the bread of life, it is time to approach God that God can take us privately and touch our hearts and ears to hear and love so that we may speak like the prophets of Old.
Christ could not turn away people in need. Whether they were physically disabled, mentally disabled, or spiritually disabled Christ could not turn them away even though he was trying to spend a day alone.
No one went hungry from God’s table, because all that was left over besides the plenty in the loaf was sufficient for the hungry.
I am blessed to stand here. Because you shared what you have and you made me better than a dog under the table. I am heard and I am cared for. Won’t that be the greatest miracle at All Saints? That is what Jesus did and that is what we are called to do.
In all our sufferings we should add mourning, patience, love, openness and willingness to remain vulnerable like the Syrophinician woman to experience the healing touch of God that we can hear the Good News of God.
Fr. Jos Tharakan