Scripture:Lectionary 409. Aug.8. Jeremiah 31:1-7. Psalm (Jeremiah) 31:10.11-12.13. Matthew 15:21-28:
Would that we could have such great faith as this unnamed woman from the area of Tyre and Sidon. This woman is a Canaanite who approaches Jesus with faith and confidence. Her daughter needs to be healed and this mother will stop at nothing to have Jesus heal her daughter.
Jesus is only focused on bringing his healing and preaching to the “lost sheep of Israel.” Does she have a chance to obtain her request?
We recall how another Canaanite woman named Rahab was given freedom by the Israelites in the capture of Jericho. She had protected the soldiers of Joshua who had spied on how to capture this most ancient of cities.
Matthew is a Jewish Gospel. The priority of Jesus as Son of David is important for his community. The separation from mother Judaism is part of the early struggle between synagogue and church. However, the success of the Gentile woman is a result of her understanding the authority of Jesus as son of David. Her strong faith in who Jesus is may be manifested in the fact that she calls Jesus Lord three times within this pericope: “Lord, son of David, have mercy on me!” Then, “Help me, Lord.” And finally, “Please, Lord, even the dogs eat the leavings that fall from their “master’s” table.” These are Christian expressions of belief in the person of Jesus as the Son of God.
Even though the disciples as well as Jesus are trying to keep her away from them, she persists. The woman is wise; she is a good listener; she has the continued love and trust that the Lord, the Master, can help her daughter. She accepts the insult; calling a person a dog especially a female dog continues even in modern languages to be a serious insult. Yet, she is not going to let anything get in the way of her wish. She wisely tells the Lord that the dogs eat whatever falls from the table of the master. She has outwitted Jesus and
overturned the table, so to speak, to gather in the food, the cure, she is seeking. She has won the day. She has outlasted the insult and turned it into a blessing for herself and her daughter. Finally, the break through comes as Jesus realizes how great this woman’s faith
is. “Woman, you have great faith! Your wish will come to pass.”
Matthew sums it all in his last remark: “That very moment her daughter got better.” Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.