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. // Mark 7:25-26
Growing up in a Jewish home, I’ve always loved the Yiddish word chutzpah (rhymes with "foot spa") and admired those who exhibited this quality. Chutzpah is defined as nerve, audacity, boldness, and incredible guts. It is the willingness to take risks, even if it shocks or surprises others. Perhaps that is why I appreciate the account of Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman in today’s Gospel—a description of chutzpah at its finest!
Scene One: Jesus is resting in a house in the Gentile district of Tyre. He doesn’t want to draw attention to Himself or His ministry, but His reputation proceeds Him.
Scene Two: A Gentile woman with a tormented, possessed daughter is desperate for help. She doesn’t care that Jesus is unavailable. She finds Him and begs at His feet.
Scene Three: What ensues is an honest, uncomfortable conversation between the Jewish Messiah and a desperate Gentile woman. Jesus argues that His mission is first to the Jews. Undeterred and un-phased by Jesus’ apparent resistance, she surprisingly counters with great insight. Will Jesus relent? Will this woman back down? Will the tormented Gentile girl be granted a crumb of healing?
Scene Four: The woman with chutzpah models bold faith. Despite obstacles and setbacks, she doesn’t give in to discouragement. What sounds like rejection, she turns into an invitation for perseverance. She knows she doesn’t have a rightful place at the table, yet she asks: “Jesus, give me what I don’t deserve on the basis of Your goodness—and I need it now!” Her remarkable faith draws from Jesus the healing power she seeks.
Closing Scene: Jesus loves bold faith, and He is always looking to evoke deeper faith in us. Do we have the chutzpah to seek out the Lord, even when He seems silent and a situation impossible? Do we trust Jesus’ heart enough to engage Him in honest, even uncomfortable conversation? Sister, may we be filled like this woman with holy chutzpah and the unrelenting faith, boldness, and audacity necessary to bring our needs to the One Who loves to save.