Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 2:18-25; Mark 7:24-30)
Genesis states that God seeks a “suitable partner” for the man. We should not think of a creature which possesses a brain, or one with two legs, or even one with the ability to talk. Rather a suitable partner is one that will help him to grow as a person. We can learn from animals; they even may occasion some development in our awareness. But real growth comes from taking up the challenge of reconciling ourselves with a person of the opposite sex. We can find in today’s gospel a mild example of this growth.
Of course, the Syrophoenician woman is not Jesus’ partner, but her femininity does affect him. She loves her daughter so much that she persists in beseeching Jesus to cast out the demon. His initial refusal, which is an apparent putdown of her nationality, is deflected as if it were expected. Jesus is deeply moved by the woman’s determination and grants her request. He begins to see that his mission is not just to the Jews but to all the peoples of the world.
We cannot say that it is necessary to be married to live a full life. Jesus himself was not. But exchange between men and women is essential to human growth. We begin to develop aspects of ourselves that are hidden when men and women relate to one another. Without assigning social roles, we can say that men and women complement each other to the benefit of both.