Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus has shown Himself to be the light in the darkness of our suffering, the light in our spiritual darkness, and today He proves Himself to be the light against the darkness that has both form and malicious thought: the demonic. Angels are beings of light; the very name Lucifer means “light bearer,” and was Satan’s name before his fall, according to ancient tradition. Demons, we could say, are angels who refuse to shine with the light of God.

In our Gospel Christ encounters a pagan foreigner, a Greek from Syrophoenicia, whose daughter is possessed by a demon: darkness has laid siege to her. This distressed mother has come to the Light and begs Him to drive the darkness out. But Jesus’ response is not one we would expect: it seems like a very prejudiced “no.” However we know Jesus is not like that, so how are we to understand Him?

When we look at her response to His statement, we see that she has not come to Jesus because of His rumored power, but because she sees Him, truly, as Lord: “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” In her humility she sees His favor—freeing her daughter from Satan’s grasp—as a mere “scrap” falling from the table of her Lord, a sign of her trust in the tremendous power of the Light. This is the purpose of Jesus’ question. He wasn’t, in so many words, blind to her because of a racial or gender prejudice. Rather, in His culturally-relevant statement, He was basically asking, “Do you see me? Does my light reach into your heart?” In her response He sees His light within her, and knows that through her faith in Him, He is able to drive out the darkness within her daughter.

This teaches us something important, beyond even the reminder of Jesus’ power over the demonic. When we approach Jesus on behalf of another, seeking His help for someone we care about, we are able to be conduits of light for that person. We can be the torch that bears the flame for another who is trapped in darkness. We can be the bolt of lightning sent from Christ to a person caught blind in a raging storm. We can be the lens that focuses the light of Christ through our hearts and onto another, just as this mother and her faith were the means by which the light of Christ entered into her daughter’s life.

Pray for one another, and do not refuse to shine. Be not a fallen Lucifer—“light bearer”—that spreads darkness but be a Christopher—“Christ bearer”—for all you meet.

February 9th, 2017