February 9, 2023
by George Butterfield
Creighton University - Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 332

Genesis 2:18-25
Psalms 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
Mark 7:24-30

Praying Ordinary Time

Parish Resources For Lent

Lent Bulletin Messages


What Can I Do Before Lent Begins?

 

Our scriptures for today have at least one thing in common: God pours out his blessings on his people.

First, Adam. He is placed in a beautiful world with plants and animals of all kinds, but he is alone. He needs a “suitable partner.” God has him check out all of the animals. He names them but not one of them is the partner he needs. I can appreciate Adam’s situation. I have two dogs. They give you unconditional love. In one sense, they are partners. However, they can never be a substitute for human companionship. Adam needed something more and God blesses him with Eve. It may seem strange but every time I think of Eve, I think of the Holy Spirit. Eve will spend her life walking alongside of Adam. The Holy Spirit is the Paraclete. “Para,” as in parallel, means on the side. Paraclete means one who goes along beside you to help you. Some translations of Genesis say “suitable helper” instead of suitable partner and the term “helper” offends some folks. Yet, think about it: what is more noble, more like Jesus, than to go alongside of someone else and help them fulfill their calling? This is what Eve does. Of course, Adam is called to do the same. He is Eve’s “suitable partner.” I love how the writer describes Adam’s delight at seeing Eve. “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” I would paraphrase this as “Yowsa! She’s like me.” (I know what Adam was thinking and feeling. For over 50 years I have been saying the same thing about my suitable partner: Yowsa). Having a suitable partner for life is a great blessing from God.

The psalmist also speaks of being blessed by God. To fear, to reverence, and to walk in his ways brings abundant blessings. Our work is blessed. Our family is blessed. Our eyes are blessed, too, as we see the prosperity of God’s people.

I love the Gospel reading. Some folks think that this passage shows how Jesus comes to the realization that his ministry is not just for Jews but for Gentiles, too. I don’t understand it that way. A Greek comes to Jesus and wants him to heal her daughter. Jesus tests her to see what kind of faith she has. It’s not right to take food prepared for the children and throw it to the dogs, Jesus says. To Jews, non-Jews were dogs. Not all people have the same view of dogs as we generally do. I have a friend who came to know Cardinal Francis Arinze. His eminence grew up in Nigeria. Once he visited my friend’s home. On entering and seeing their dog he said, “What is that dog doing in your house?” Alan explained to him that it was a family pet. This Greek woman agreed with Jesus that the children’s food should not be thrown to the dogs but that even the dogs get the scraps that fall from the table. To her, Jesus’ healing of her daughter was like a scrap falling from the table. A scrap that falls on the floor is no big deal. Jesus, this would be like nothing for you to heal my daughter. That is faith. I quite imagine Jesus smiling as he tells her that the scrap has fallen, and the dog has eaten it – her daughter is healed.

To us, God’s blessings, especially when he heals us, are like a nine-course meal. To God, his blessings take as much effort as we would take if a scrap fell from the table. No big deal. God loves and blesses his children.

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