Monday, March 31, 2014

Escaping Notice

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 Syro-phoenician 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 7:24-34

Monday (and less often Friday), clergy often take as their day off.  After a full Sunday and the preparation that came before, it is nice to set aside some time to be one of the folks. Some go see movies and most of us catch up on chores. It is always hard when someone approaches you on that day off with some spiritual or physical crisis. You want to be compassionate and do what you can. You also are tempted to scream, "it's my day off - leave me alone!" I really don't know anyone that has done that, but a few minutes of rest and privacy are highly valued. 

Jesus was seeking that kind of rest and privacy as he tried to make his way unnoticed through Tyre. He thought he might have some time to himself there. A woman notices him and begs for help. At first he refuses but then she is very bold, and, for love of her daughter, is willing to make a fool of herself and go to any lengths. Jesus has compassion on her and on the deaf man. Despite his human need for rest and privacy, the compassion of God, overwhelmed him. It also made people pursue him all the more. God invites us to know that compassion is at the heart of the Creator, and that Jesus, in his humanity, knew the struggle of being exhausted and in need of rest. God knows the work we do is often more than we can do alone, and provides us with the strength we need.

Today I ask God to help me be strong in my weakness, and compassionate in my exhaustion. May we care for our human needs but never dismiss God's power working in us. May we find renewal in the love that has been showered upon us, and be grateful every day for the work we have been given.

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