Today’s Gospel is the episode of Jesus healing the Gentile woman’s daughter who had an unclean spirit. It takes all of the predictable turns of Jesus’ encounters with the poor: they beg, He has mercy, and they are healed.
I’ve heard this a million times; Jesus heals her. Saw that one coming. Yes, yes and yes.
At first glance, this is a very predictable tale. However, as I read through it today, the detail that stuck out to me the most was actually at the very beginning of the story:
“He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it,
but he could not escape notice.”
In the side column notes of my Fireside New American Bible, the commentary suggests that his visit to Tyre “may have been for respite” (1075). If it is true that Jesus really was tired and wanted a little privacy to recuperate, then the entire message and significance of the story changes.
My view of Jesus has been slowly changing from a static, indomitable force of love and mercy to a living and breathing Person to whom I can actually relate. For the record, I have zero cases of driving out demons, but I do know what it feels like to need some alone time to rest. That is “self-love” or “self-maintenance” that I think each person has a responsibility to uphold. Even Jesus needed it!
But despite His weariness or His humanity, He doesn’t close the door and say,
“Sorry, I’m on break. Come back in an hour.”
He engages her, gives His attention and loves her.
Perhaps, in God’s divine wisdom, He knew this was an important Gospel to be read on a holiday for which love has been reduced to sentimentality, chocolates, and roses.
Real love is more than that.
It is willing the good of the other. It is choosing to serve our beloved even when we are tired. Love means choosing the other over ourselves.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
During the week, Matthew Juliano is a mentor for individuals who have developmental and intellectual disabilities. He has started a Youtube Series that explains and raises awareness about the work he does, which can be found HERE. On the weekends, he is a drummer for Full Armor Band. You can find more content by Matt and his band at www.fullarmorband.com.