Glorious Scraps

Scripture Reading

Jesus went to the district of Tyre.
He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it,
but he could not escape notice.
Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him.
She came and fell at his feet.
The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth,
and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter.
He said to her, “Let the children be fed first.
For it is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She replied and said to him,
“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”
Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go.
The demon has gone out of your daughter.”
When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed
and the demon gone.
(Mark 7:24-30)


Scripture Study

7:24. The region of Tyre and Sidon is nowadays the southern part of Lebanon-Phoenicia in ancient times. The distance from the lake of Gennesaret to the frontier of Tyre and Sidon is not more than 50 kms (30 miles). Jesus withdrew from Palestine to avoid persecution by the Jewish authorities and to give the apostles more intensive training.

7:27. Our Lord actually uses the diminutive—“little dogs” to refer to the Gentiles—thereby softening a scornful expression which Jews used. On the episode of the Canaanite woman see the notes on parallel passages, Mt 15:21–28.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Today our Gospel brings the story of Jesus’ conversation with the Syro-Phoenician woman, is one of those famously problematic passages in the New Testament. This poor woman, a Canaanite, a foreigner, comes forward and tells Jesus of her daughter who is troubled by a demon and the Lord just ignores her. When she persists, Jesus says, “I have come only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” When she prostrates herself at his feet, Jesus says, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”

Of course, the woman gets off one of the best one-liners in the Scriptures, almost all of which otherwise belong to Jesus himself: “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters. At which point, Jesus praises her for her faith and cures her daughter.

What’s going on here is really interesting and provocative. The Syro-Phoenician woman is being invited into the life of discipleship, into the following of Jesus. She is resisted, not because Jesus is having a bad day, but because he wants the strength of her faith to show itself.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 



[1] Saint Mark’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 89–90.