February 13, 2020
by Colleen Chiacchere
Creighton University's Education
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 332

1 Kings 11:4-13
Psalms 106:3-4, 35-36, 37 and 40
Mark 7:24-30
Praying Ordinary Time

Our first reading and our Gospel reading today give some beautiful examples of unexpected and generous love where the situation maybe didn’t initially or customarily allow for it.  The expectation was punishment for breaking the covenant (in the first reading) and for being an undeserving outsider (in the second reading).  But our (Old Testament) God, and then Jesus, respectively, open wide their understandings of judgment to show unprecedented or out-of-the-box generosity and love.

Our first reading from 1st Kings says:

So the LORD said to Solomon: “Since this is what you want,
and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes
which I enjoined on you,
I will deprive you of the kingdom and give it to your servant.
I will not do this during your lifetime, however,
for the sake of your father David;
it is your son whom I will deprive.
Nor will I take away the whole kingdom.
I will leave your son one tribe for the sake of my servant David
and of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”

Oh, my! Worshipping many gods instead of one.  Solomon breaks his covenant with God but God magnanimously spares Solomon what he technically deserves.  This story seems familiar to me and my experience of God.  I am welcomed back and loved generously with many gifts even when I fall victim to and choose to worship many gods…the gods of productivity, of reputation, of self-centeredness, of insecurity, of jealousy (the list could go on). 

And, in the Gospel reading from Mark, we see Jesus trying to be inconspicuous in a new place, but he finds out soon that his reputation is known in Tyre, too.  A foreign woman asks him for help in releasing a demon from her suffering daughter and his initial answer reflects his cultural upbringing and the following of rules.  After her quick, clever, challenging response, we witness the Jesus that transcends cultural norms of inclusivity and exclusivity, of who’s in and who’s out.

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.”

For me, these readings invite me to reflect on the times when I was welcomed and awarded more love than I deserved or more acceptance than I predicted.  I think of my time teaching in Pine Ridge at Red Cloud Indian School, when I, as an outsider was welcomed by families, parishioners and community members into their homes and lives.  I think of second chances I’ve been given when I have made mistakes. I think of the warm and welcome embrace I feel time and time again. 

And, in the Ignatian sense of acting from that place of gratitude and feeling loved, the readings also invite me – and each of us – to model that magnanimous love for others in our lives.  For the students who keeps turning assignments in late…for the immigrants and refugees in our midst…for those who live with a stigma in society (the felon, the outcast, the homeless person, the high school dropout, the estranged family member, etc.).  Who are the ones in our lives that need a second chance or some really expected love? My prayer for each of us today is to channel God and Jesus’ magnanimous love and demonstrate that for everyone around us.                                                      

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