Matthew 15: 21-28
Having offended the Pharisees by challenging how they break the command of God for the sake of their tradition, Jesus enters into the district of Tyre and Sidon. This place was considered to be a gentile and pagan territory and here he encounters a Canaanite woman. This woman is a woman of faith and Jesus responds favourably to her because of her faith which she displays by her unending plea for help and her sharp and fitting response to his remark to her (verse 26)
“It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
She understands the implication of Jesus’ remark and is willing to settle for crumbs. Jesus admires her faith: “Woman you have great faith! Your request is granted.”
When I read this passage, I see myself as among the disciples, and the woman as the male caller who calls to our door regularly looking for help from one member of our community. Recently, this person called late at night and, like the disciples, I see him as a nuisance and I hear myself saying, “Send him away, for he keeps crying out after us.”
But then during one of his visits I saw how our sister responds to his call for help. Maybe for a moment at least he is healed from the pain that causes his addiction. Through this sister, perhaps, he sees himself as a valued human being, even for short periods of time. His belief, knowing he is accepted by her and her favourable response to him, is what comes to mind reflecting on this Gospel story.
For all who mirror God’s love and compassion in every day encounters I give thanks as they remind me that when I listen to the heart, God’s love is revealed allowing healing to occur.
Sr. Edel Murphy OP