When Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon followed Astarte the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not completely follow the Lord, as his father David had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who offered incense and sacrificed to their gods.
Then the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this matter, that he should not follow other gods; but he did not observe what the Lord commanded. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, "Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of your father David I will not do it in your lifetime; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. I will not, however, tear away the entire kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen."
They are happy who do what is right,
who at all times do what is just.
O Lord, remember me
out of the love you have for your people. (R./)
But instead they mingled with the nations
and learned to act like them.
They worshipped the idols of the nations
and these became a snare to entrap them. (R./)
They even offered their own sons
and their daughters in sacrifice to demons,
till his anger blazed against his people:
he was filled with horror at his chosen ones. (R./)
Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syro-phoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." The he said to her, "For saying that, you may go – the demon has left your daughter." So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Women hold centre stage in today's readings. The pagan women that Solomon has married are held responsible, at least in part, for that king's apostasy from God. But then in the gospel a pagan woman surprises Jesus with her faith and humble perseverance. These texts invite a reflection about the right relationship between the sexes, in family and friendship as well as in the wider community. Our gender distinction as men or women along with diversity in personality, talents and interests help us to complement each other and challenge one another to grow to our full potential. In the first chapter of Genesis the union by which the first woman and man complement one another is because both are made in the image of God.
Many of the women in the Scriptures are models for men as well as women, just as men provide examples for both women and men. What is scattered and fragmented must be reunited in Jesus, for as Paul says: "among you it is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28-29). Belonging to Jesus in a radical way should heal all tension and fragmentation arising from gender.
In his response to the pagan, Syro-Phoenician woman Jesus at first seems reluctant to pay any attention to her request. There is no simple way to soften the harsh reply of Jesus, except perhaps that he would not repeat the mistakes of Solomon and interact closely with foreign women. The apparent rejection is healed by the woman's humility, perseverance and love for her child. Not for selfish pleasure or personal gain, but for the sake of her daughter, does the woman turn aside Jesus' harsh words by replying: "but even the dogs under the table eat the family's leavings." This answer overcomes his first objections, and Jesus heals the woman's daughter - a splendid example of gentle perseverance rewarded.
Love and friendship make demands on our generosity. Even Jesus seems reluctant to divert attention away from his own chosen people, Israel, to attend to the pagan woman. There is no simple way to soften the harsh reply of Jesus, except perhaps that he would not repeat the mistakes of Solomon who was led astray by foreign women.
The shock of this apparent rejection is healed by the woman's humility, perseverance and love for her child. Not for selfish pleasure or personal gain, but for the sake of her daughter, does the woman turn aside Jesus' harsh words by replying: "but even the dogs under the table eat the family's leavings." This answer overcomes his first objections, and Jesus heals the woman's daughter–a splendid example of gentle perseverance rewarded.