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The Canaanite woman’s faith

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 he 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 her daughter was healed from that hour.


The region of Galilee was called “Galilee of the Gentiles” because of the pagan peoples that were settled there by the Assyrians when they conquered Samaria. North of Galilee were the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon populated by pagans. The Jews in Jesus’ time considered their pagan neighbors “unclean” and avoided contact with them to avoid defilement.

In a rare case when he goes to the region of Tyre and Sidon, Jesus is met by a Canaanite woman (a Syrophoenician in Mk 7:26) begging him to cure her daughter tormented by a demon. She is a member of the pagan people whom the Lord dispossessed, their land given over to Israel. Here Jesus is pictured as reluctant to break through an age-old barrier between God’s people and their pagan neighbors who worship idols. Or he may just be testing the love of the mother for her child. When the woman accepts her unworthiness and that of her kind, and yet expresses her belief that the prophet of God cannot be oblivious to the suffering even of strangers, Jesus marvels at her “great faith” and heals her daughter immediately.

“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget,
I will never forget you” (Is 49:15).

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2017” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.