Gospel: Mt 15:21-28
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from the area, came and cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not answer her, not even a word. So his disciples approached him and said, “Send her away! See how she is shouting after us.”
Then Jesus said to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel.”
But the woman was already kneeling before Jesus, and said, “Sir, help me!” Jesus answered, “It is not right to take the bread from the children and throw it to puppies.” The woman replied, “That is true, sir, but even puppies eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said, “Woman, how great is your faith! Let it be as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
The Canaanite woman can teach us a lot about how we are to pray especially when we want to ask a special favor from the Lord. The woman had great faith that even impressed Jesus. She was convinced that Jesus could do it and he would not refuse her wish. She was persevering in prayer that she would not take no for an answer, never gave in to discouragement in spite of the seemingly upsetting remarks of Jesus. One can readily see her genuine love for her daughter that she did not mind approaching Jesus although she knew she did not have the right to do so because she was non-Jewish. She did not mind what seem to be discriminatory remarks – “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel…” “…it is not right to take the bread from the children and throw it to puppies.” She loved her daughter so much that she was ready to do anything just to have her get well.
The story also reminds us how, like Jesus, we must be ecumenical and mission-oriented. By acceding to the request of the Canaanite Jesus somehow gave the signal that the blessings of the Kingdom are not solely for the “children of Israel” but meant for all the children of God. Recipients of our charity and works of mercy are not to be limited to members of our Christian communities but for anyone who is in need, regardless of color, creed or affiliation.