The Canaanite woman’s faith

Today’s Gospel (Matthew 15: 21-28) is about the interaction Jesus has with a Canaanite woman whose daughter is tormented by a devil.

Fr Paul says that, from the outset of this Gospel, the woman who comes to Jesus is not after anything for herself. It is for her daughter, and it is for her, that the woman comes to ask Jesus for help.

This encounter, in biblical times, would have created quite a controversy because the Canaanite was a gentile and a woman and to speak to someone like Jesus, a Jew, a man, would be quite irregular.

Yet, when we look closely at this woman she is very reverent towards Jesus; she calls him Lord; she calls him Son of David, which is very important for the writer of Matthew’s Gospel. She worships Jesus twice, asking him to have pity on her. She is persistent. She is shouting after them looking for that help.

If we look, then, at Jesus and his response, initially, he is reluctant to help her because, as he says, his mission is to the House of Israel. In fact, Jesus is quite rude towards this woman, particularly with the example given of house dogs and scraps. But after their argument, Jesus sees the faith of this woman and, ultimately, he congratulates her for her great faith and because of this he grants the cure of the woman’s daughter.

For us in our prayer time today Fr Paul invites us to follow the example of this woman by trying, always, to be persistent in prayer; always, using persistence to attain what we need in our lives at this time