Equality before God


Jesus and the Syrian Woman
Jesus and the Syrian Woman

Picture courtesy of womeninthebible.net

Solomon the wise, points out today in our reading from the book of Wisdom that we are all equal before God. Whether a King or a commoner, we are all descendents of Adam and Eve, all born helpless and in need of care, and we will all die. He isn't wrong, in fact today we know that every human being whether from the UK, Russia, the USA, or the depths of Africa, in spite of what the outside may look like are genetically 99.9% idenical. So the things that make us different from one another are so miniscule that to hate and revile others because of them is sheer stupidity. Differences there are merely present because God appreciates infinite variety.

Jesus knew about racism, there was plenty of it around in his time and he didn’t like it, we know this for sure from the parable that he told of the Good Samaritan. So the conversation with the Syrian mother (Today's gospel reading) is unexpected.

Jesus was on holiday in Lebanon getting some well earned rest, when this Syrian woman came up to him. This woman is a mother and she is desperately worried about her little girl. “My daughter - she is possessed by a demon”. Jesus answers, “It is not meet to take the children’s food and give it to the dogs”. He had been sent by the Father to the House of Israel, not to Gentiles. The children of the Israel were to be fed first. Dogs’ sounds harsh, but the term he used was the Greek diminutive kynaria, which meant little dogs, household pets, not outside scavengers. He said that the children of Israel were to be fed first, the Gentiles turn would come. But as a desparate mother who fully believed in Jesus ability to heal her daughter - she persisted and her faith and persistance paid off.

Jesus was travelling home from his holiday in Lebanon and he passed through an area called Decapolis, the Ten Towns. This was an area considered by Jews (probably including Jesus disciples) to be not a nice neighbourhood. A generation earlier … well to use one public figure’s language…. “a swarm of immigrants had flooded in there. They didn’t share our faith, they weren’t our sort of people. They keep pigs! (The lowest of the low to a Jew)..’

Anyway these immigrants - they bring this deaf man forward and they beg Jesus to lay his hands on him. And Jesus takes him away from the crowd, puts his fingers in his ears, spat and touched his tongue, looked up to heaven and said “Ephphatha” “be opened” and the man is healed and can hear and speak. “Make sure you tell no one about it” says Jesus.

Jesus healed a Syrian mother’s little daughter, and a deaf immigrant in the Ten Towns from another faith community…..Child of God you are not allowed to make distinctions among people or to dishonour the poor, or those of other races and cultures. As our reading in the book of Wisdom says - everyone is a descendant of Adam and Eve, all are God’s creations. He loves you, but he also loves them.

Jesus tells them not to tell anyone about it. But the thing is when Jesus does something wonderful in your life, it's impossible not to tell other people about it. And when you encounter a Jesus who treats Syrian mothers and deaf immigrants not as statistics, but as human beings in need of help and love, it's hard not to tell people about it. Then Jesus sacrifice on the cross made it possible for us to all be equal before God. Try not to tell anyone.