The readings for today seem very much at odds with each other at first glance, the reading from the first book of Kings takes up the story of Solomon and his many wives who influenced him and “derailed” his love for the Lord. Just yesterday in our reading we were treated to the queen of Sheba celebrating his great wisdom. Today, one wonders exactly what happened in-between? How could someone that wise lose sight of the Lord? Solomon had many wives and it seems that they caused him to forget about the Lord. My Hebrew Scripture professor used to remind us that there is always a Theological truth about the Hebrew people and their relationship with God to be gleaned in Scripture. I might suggest that is still true today in our relationship with our Lord. Keeping close to the Lord keeps one faithful and wise. We must be careful about relationships or circumstances that take us away from God. We can have our consequences in going off track in our relationship with the Lord. What or who may have taken you off-track?
The Gospel offers us an insight into the faith of a Syrophoenician woman—a Pagan, who persists in engaging Jesus to heal her daughter. And while the wives of Solomon have compromised his faith, this woman’s persistent faith has moved Jesus to free her daughter from the possession of a demon. The text suggests that Jesus has no intention of listening to her. We read that he wanted no one to know about his whereabouts. I might suggest that Jesus was out of character in his comments about “its not right to take the food of the children and feed it to the dogs.” He who actively sought people out for healing, didn’t want to be disturbed. Certainly, his response falls within the confines of the first reading—be careful to stay away from Pagans! It’s just never that simple, is it? Yet, what changed his mind? Was it her persistence in refusing to be put off? Her desperation?
What are we to understand here? Might I suggest that when we stay close to God, as Jesus did, we remain open to having our plans interrupted. Can you relate to this notion? We must be prepared to allow our plans to be interrupted, even Jesus demonstrates this principle. Further, we must be persistent in prayer and stay close to our Lord. It’s that simple—not at odds at all.
Perhaps the Psalm response offers us additional insight, “Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.” Amen.
Jean Bowler is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the Office of Mission Effectiveness Board of Holy Cross Province.