Many agree that the story of the Syrophoenician woman is one of the toughest passages to interpret in the Bible. In the account, Jesus meets a Gentile woman in the region of Tyre who begs Jesus to heal her daughter from possession by a demon. Jesus responds by saying, “First let the children eat all they want…for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs” (Mark 7:27). The woman wisely replies “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (Mark 7:28). Jesus commends the woman for her response and heals the woman’s daughter.
But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds. Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (Matthew 11:16-21) As a physician, one of the things that always perplexed me was how two people could have such a different response to illness or death. At times I saw patients with the very same disease but contrasting reactions to it. Some drew closer to God and became increasingly grateful. Others cursed God or denied him. He had stolen from them or never existed at all, they claimed. What makes a person fall into one category or another, I often wondered. And now that I have my own disease, with my life goals and trajectory altered, I think about my response to illness. I never understood the … Read More