Communicable and deadly diseases always frighten us. So do demons. Before anyone knew that HIV/AIDS could not caught by a sneeze or sharing a soft drink, there was immense fear in people about something they did not know. People with AIDS were like demons. Even after it became clear that AIDS could only be spread by the exchange of body fluids through sexual contact, needle sharing and the very rare blood transfusion, people were very much afraid. Something as toxic as AIDS scares us and the same was true in the ancient world regarding people possessed by demons.
Even as Jesus listened to the desperate pleading of the Syrophoenician woman whose daughter was possessed by a demon, he tests her and insists that he has come as food for the Jews. But the woman is not deterred. Asking Jesus to think of her as a dog, she reminds him that even dogs can eat the scraps that fall from the master's table. When Jesus heals her daughter and frees her from the demons obsessing her, he challenged people then and now not to dismiss people because of their illness, sexual orientation, race or religious convictions.
Today, listen with your heart to someone from a different race or religion.
Do you know someone with the courage and fortitude of the Syrophoenician woman?