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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 7, 24-30

He left that place and set out for the territory of Tyre. There he went into a house and did not want anyone to know he was there; but he could not pass unrecognised.

At once a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him and came and fell at his feet.

Now this woman was a gentile, by birth a Syro-Phoenician, and she begged him to drive the devil out of her daughter.

And he said to her, 'The children should be fed first, because it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to little dogs.'

But she spoke up, 'Ah yes, sir,' she replied, 'but little dogs under the table eat the scraps from the children.'

And he said to her, 'For saying this you may go home happy; the devil has gone out of your daughter.'

So she went off home and found the child lying on the bed and the devil gone.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Ending the controversy between Jesus and the Pharisees on ablutions and legal purity, Mark’s text offers us the story of the Syrophoenician woman. Jesus returns again in a pagan land and stays there for some time, accomplishing a real mission of evangelization. It seems that in Chapter 7 and 8, the evangelist Mark underlines the determination of Jesus to go beyond the boundaries of his people. Breaking the boundaries of the ordinary people of Israel, Jesus wants to say that the Gospel is not reserved only to a few people or only to certain people. There is no one in the world that is alien to the Gospel; no one who cannot be touched by the Lord’s mercy. The example of the Syrophoenician woman, as recounted by the evangelist, seems to “force” Jesus to push the boundaries of his mission. One could say that the Gospel even pushes Jesus to go further, not to stop on the usual boundaries, not even those of his own culture or his own religion. Soon after having received the baptism by John, Jesus was “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Mt 4:1), as if to emphasize Jesus’ obedience to the Father. In this case it is the prayer of this woman to bend Jesus’ heart. She insistently asks for healing for her sick daughter. It is an example for all of us believers: this is the way to pray. Moreover many times Jesus himself insisted on perseverance in prayer, “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened for you” (Lk 11:9-10). The insistence of this poor woman helps us to understand the mercy and goodness of God. The Lord cannot resist the sincere prayer of his children, even those that are considered to be far from the faith of his people. That woman has persevered in prayer and Jesus has heard her beyond her demands. He has not only given the crumbs, but the fullness of life for her daughter. Truly the Lord’s heart is large and rich in mercy. We are asked only to turn to Him with confidence. At the end of the parable about the efficacy of prayer, Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit* to those who ask him!” (Lk 11:13).

Memory of the Church