09042021 – Mark 7. 24-37

It is an “old” often referred to story: the Washington Post conducted an experiment about our failure to listen, our failure to hear, our failure to notice, maybe even our failure to be touched by the beauty that surrounds.

Many of us, just go through this life being oblivious.  Its about “being open” to all that surrounds us!  Taking notice!

Being observant.  Being engaged.  Being involved!

The experiment involved JOSHUA BELL, one of the world’s greatest violinists who performed with almost ALL the world’s MAJOR ORCHESTRAS.

Joshua Bell was commissioned to play his $4,000,000 Stradivarius Violin in of all places – a “subway station” in Washington, D.C.

Joshua was ONLY AVAILABLE in January.  So that was the month that was chosen.

The great violinist dressed like an ordinary street musician begging for tips and sat in the subway station playing alone by himself for 45 minutes.

The Washington Post had a hidden camera to video the entire event.

Out of the “1,097 people” who passed by him, only seven stopped to listen briefly to the free concert!

He received $32.17 in tips.

Everyone was too busy.

Everyone was in too much of a hurry.

Everyone was quickly going places.

No one had time for anything…that deviated from their daily schedule.

The conclusion of the study verified that he had been LARGELY IGNORED.

His performance was an experiment in CONTEXT, PERCEPTION, AND PRIORITIES, — as well as “an unblinking assessment” of public taste:

In a rather odd, cold, setting, at an inconvenient time, on a miserable day, COULD or WOULD beauty transcend?

One person commented: “I cried because I find it “scary and depressing” to think of how many people go through daily life, even smart and otherwise attentive individuals…

Who knows WHAT beautiful things I’ve MISSED by just hurrying along lost in MY thoughts?

Another person said, “It’s almost “a panicky feeling,” that IF a performance by Joshua Bell on his “STRAD” GETS LOST in the shuffle, what about ALL THE SMALLER “beautiful things” that happen EVERYDAY and could be making people happier, if only they JUST stopped and paid attention?”

So, apparently, Jesus did not have “that problem.”

He listened. He heard. He noticed. He saw. He was touched. He had compassion. And sometimes, he was even confronted. And sometimes, confronted again and again, as we see in our Gospel for today!


Poor guy, just trying to get away, just looking for a little respite, a little breather… and of course, it was not to be!  Sometimes, there is no getting away.

He even went out of his way – into foreign, Gentile, and even hostile lands.


It did not matter.  He was recognized.  There was no getting away.  His reputation preceded him.  “THE WORD” about him spread and circulated.  There was no hiding.  Go ahead, Jesus, try and operate under the radar and see what happens!


So, there he is in Tyre, in the Roman Province of Syria.  This is a three-fold area of major enemies of Israel, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Canaanites.


And here, Jesus is confronted again and again, in broad day light, by a foreigner, a woman, unaccompanied by a male figure, a gentile-dog…who happens to be relentless.  She will not give up.  She will not take NO for an answer.  She will argue with him until she is blue in the face if it will help her daughter.


And he sees her, he hears her, he listens to her, he is touched by her, and he appeases her, and her daughter is made well.


Syrophoenician Woman – 1 Jesus – 0


One wonders, if she DID NOT “stick it into his ear” – that he needs to be a little MORE OPEN in his ministry?   


Because the next thing we know – he moves on from there to Decapolis – or the area of the 10 pre-dominantly NON JEWISH cities, like Sidon.


And this time a whole GENTILE CROWD comes, surrounding him and begging him to heal a man who is BOTH deaf and mute.


And taking the man away from the crowds, Jesus heals him with the one word, “EPHPHATHA” – or be open.


Again, Jesus has heard, listened, noticed, and seen, was touched, and TOUCHED and had compassion on others, even these non-believing Gentiles…


Sometimes, you have to stop and see what is happening around you, notice, look, see, listen, and hear and above all things, be open.