Memory of the Church

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Memory of Saint Scholastica (480 AD - 547ca), sister of Saint Benedict. With her we remember all women hermits and nuns together with all the women who follow the Lord.

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

After the end of Jesus’ argument with the Pharisees about ritual washing and legal purity, Mark’s text offers us the episode of the Syrophoenician woman. Jesus returns to pagan territory and remains there for some time in order to complete a genuine evangelising mission. By breaking out of the customary boundaries of the people of Israel, Jesus is trying to say that the Gospel is not reserved for certain populations or for certain people. There is no one in the world who is irrelevant to the Gospel; there is no one who cannot be touched by the Lord’s mercy. As the evangelist recounts, the example of the Syrophoenician woman seems to "force" Jesus to expand the scope of his mission. We could say that the Gospel even pushes Jesus to constantly go beyond, not stopping within the usual limits, even those of his culture or those of his very religion. Immediately after being baptised by John, Jesus was "led up by the Spirit" into the desert (Mt 4:1), as if to underline Jesus’ obedience to the Father. In this case, it is the woman’s prayer that bends Jesus’ heart. She keeps insisting that he heal her sick daughter. It is an example for all of us believers: this is how to pray. Jesus himself had repeatedly insisted on the importance of perseverance in prayer: "Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened" (Lk 11:9-10). This poor woman’s insistence helps us understand the mercy and goodness of God. The Lord cannot resist the sincere prayers of his children. That woman persevered in prayer, and Jesus answered her, going well beyond her request. He did not just give her crumbs; he gave her daughter the fullness of life. Truly, the Lord’s heart is great and rich in mercy. All that is asks of us is to turn to him in faith. At the end of the parable about the effectiveness 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).