Today's gospel reading is a puzzling one to say the least. There are as many opinions about the exchange between Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman as there are scholars. This is the message I preached today at Bethel in Portville, NY. In today’s gospel, Jesus has travelled to Tyre, a distinctly non-Jewish city on the coast of the Mediterranean, knowing he would meet Gentiles, or non-Jews. Tyre had an extensive relationship with its Jewish neighbors. It was a rich city, which depended upon the agricultural production of outlying areas like northern Palestine. Galilee fed Tyre. So what is a rural Jew like Jesus doing in a place like Tyre? Jesus always seems to be hanging out with the wrong people—sinners, outcasts, Gentiles—all the people the religious elite did not approve of. The woman in the first story, being a Syrophoenician from the region of Tyre may well have been an urban member of the ruling class with interests directly opposed to those of rural Jews.
“Marked with the cross of Christ forever, we are claimed, gathered, and sent for the sake of the world.” (Sent! by God's grace for the sake of the world, July 2006, "Global Missions Event." 5).