Reading: A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”. Matthew 15:22a.
Good morning, happy Wednesday, and many blessings my dear family.
In today’s Gospel (Matthew15:21-28) we experience a side of Jesus that we do not expect. Jesus and his disciples withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. As they were walking along, a Canaanite woman came to Jesus. She called out to him, begging Jesus: “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is possessed, and the demon is tormenting her!” However, Jesus did not even acknowledge her presence or her plea.
The woman did not give up. She continued to call out to Jesus. Finally, his disciples went to Jesus and told him to send the woman away. Jesus’ response to them was curt. He said: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Like the woman in the gospel, I come before Jesus bringing others in my prayer. As I pray for those I love, I grow an appreciation of their goodness and ask for blessings for them. I think again of how they are blessings for me, and I give thanks.
The woman persisted. She did him homage and said: “Lord, help me.” Jesus refused. He told the woman that he could not take food from the children of Israel and “throw it to the dogs” (for the Gentiles typically were called “dogs” because they worshiped idols). However, the woman was determined. She told Jesus: “Even dogs eat the scraps that fall from the master’s table.” She begged him to throw a few scraps to her beloved daughter. Jesus was amazed at her faith, her persistence, and her deep love for her daughter. Jesus then tells her: “Let it be done for you as you wish.” Immediately, her daughter was healed!
In the tradition preserved for us in the Scriptures, Jesus is presented to us as a formidable debater but in this instance the Canaanite woman comfortably wins the debating point. Jesus praises the woman for her faith but what was her faith? What did she believe about Jesus? One would love to know her subsequent history. Did this act of Jesus mark a turning point in her life? We do not know.
In a way this pagan woman can give us a lesson on prayer. We are not always happy with our lot or the lot of others, and we should express our real feelings to Christ, not just our sanitized ones. Jesus hears my prayer.
What are the scraps you desire from Jesus’ table? How persistent are you with Jesus? Today may we be as persistent with Jesus as this mother was. May we trust that Jesus will not disappoint us!