Gospel Reflection Wednesday 18th Week of Ordinary Time (9 August) – The Canaanite Woman’s Faith
Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (15: 21-28) in which a Canaanite woman begs Jesus to cure her demon-possessed daughter saying, ‘Even the house dogs can eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table’. Fr Paul says this is an especially significant scene in a couple of ways. At first Jesus is reluctant to do anything for her, for his mission, as we hear, was primarily to Israel. He puts her off and is really quite rude to her. However, she wins through by her persistence and her determined confidence in Jesus’ powers. We also hear that the disciples get fed up with her shouting after them, and they ask Jesus to cure her daughter, which he does. Secondly, it shows a lot about Jesus’ relationship to women and about his sense of humour. Both Jesus and the woman seem to tease each other with their back-and-forth banter, just as he does with the Samaritan woman in John, Chapter 4. In Matthew’s account the woman is far more reverent to Jesus. She calls him ‘Lord’ three times and she also calls him ‘son of David’ which is an important title for Matthew, the Gospel writer, who is a Christian Jew. The woman kneels before Jesus to worships him, twice asking him to have pity on her. Jesus, for his part, explicitly congratulates her on her great faith, and cures the daughter because of her faith – a cure which Matthew stresses was instantaneous. For our reflection today, Fr Paul says, like the woman in today’s Gospel, we too need to be persistent in our prayers and in our efforts.