9 February 2006: Thusday of the 5th Week in Ordinary Time
Mark 7, 24-30: The Syrophoenician Woman
The Gospel today can be read as indicating our desire for God whatever or whoever we are. The Syrophoenician woman was Greek, and thus she was a stranger, a Gentile, someone who does not belong to the Jewish nation. And yet, the woman in her need cried out, “Lord, help my daughter. Cast the demon out of her!” Her cry for help stirred from her deepest desire to be whole, and her deepest desire for her daughter to be healed. And this is what makes the incident moving and extraordinary in the life of Jesus. For Jesus the deepest cry of the human heart is primary, its response to the deepest need and want is not dependent on differences whether race or creed. We are all one in our deepest desires.
Julian of Norwich once wrote about desires in her Revelations of Divine Love: “Then we can ask reverently of our lover whatever we will. For by nature, our will wants God, and the good will of God wants us. We shall never cease wanting and longing until we possess Him in fullness and joy. Then we shall have no further wants.” St. Augustine of Hippo, who in his Confessions, wrote: “The thought of you stirs him [a human being] so deeply that he cannot be content unless he praises you, because you made us for yourself, and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you”.
Thus, the question for us is this: Do you have this deepest longing for God? When do we cry in the very depths of our hearts, ‘Lord, help me’?
This leads us to the second point about casting demons. The point of the miracle is that Jesus was able to cast out the demon from the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman. The daughter was therefore healed and made whole, which is the very desire of the woman. Thus what are the things in ourselves that needs healing?
You see if we look closely into ourselves, we find ourselves wanting: no one is worthy of his or her profession. The teacher finds herself in a tension between what she teaches and how she practices it. The doctor finds himself not fully equipped because there are things which he does not know. The leader knows pretty well that she has limitations. The father knows that it is difficult to raise children. The priest who is very much in touch with his sinfulness admits that his being chosen by God to lead people to pray is unworthy of the honor. We are not complete individually, by ourselves. We complete each other, the way healing happened to the Syrophoenician woman: the daughter needs the deepest desire and faith of her mother, and the healing power of Jesus.
There is a song by the Indigo Girls called the “Power of Two”. The refrain goes this way:
So we’re ok, we’re fine
Baby I’m here to stop your cryin’
Chase all the ghosts from your head
I’m stronger than the monster beneath your bed
Smarter than the tricks played on your heart
Look at them together and we’ll take them apart
Adding up a total of a love that’s true
Multiply life by the power of two.
The power of two dispels the pain, the anger, the rejection and the wanting. It dispels our limitations and we then become whole and complete. The teacher teaches with the guidance of other teachers. The father raises children in partnership with his wife. The priest hears confessions conscious that it is not him who forgives but Christ.
Each one finds joy in the power of two. There is a shoulder to lean on. There is someone to cry on to. There is someone to laugh our demons away. The relationship of love allows healing. It drives demons away. Then we become ok. Then we become fine. We multiply life by the power of two.
*photo by Neo Saicon SJ