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Jesus and the Canaanite woman

Gospel Reading: Mt 15:21-28
At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

Tested Faith, True Faith
“O woman, great is your faith!” (v 28) are Jesus’ affirming words to the Canaanite woman at the conclusion of the Gospel. Despite many obstacles and challenges, she tenaciously perseveres in her trust that Jesus would answer her prayer.

The trials of daily life, in great and small ways, probe the depth of our faith and trust in God. In this the Canaanite woman offers us a model.

A person of faith has deep committed love. The Canaanite woman has a daughter “tormented by a demon” (v 22). The mother wants healing and deliverance for her daughter; she is not asking favors for herself. Her request is motivated by genuine compassion. The driving force in the heart of the Canaanite woman is love; she sees Jesus as a man of compassion and love.

A genuine believer has deep faith, which urges one to constantly turn to Jesus for assistance. “Lord,” she says, “help me” (v 25). She believes that Jesus can help her; she expresses her trust, addressing Jesus as “Son of David” (v 22). Her petition is actually a prayer.

A person of faith has courageous persistence in turning to God, believing in God’s love – even in the midst of great trials. The Canaanite woman is not discouraged – even when the disciples want to send her away or when Jesus does not respond immediately.

The Canaanite woman also has the gift of cheerfulness – even a sense of humor. She could refer to herself as a little dog that eats the scraps from the master’s table. Her love is genuine and authentic. She is at peace, ready to accept whatever God would give in answer to her prayers. Indeed, the Canaanite woman has a message – or, indeed, messages – for us as we face our daily journeys.

At the Eucharist we receive Jesus who gives us his body and blood to be our food of strength for our daily journeys in faith!

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.