Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour. (Matthew 15:21-28)
Christians say they have faith but each of us needs to stop every day and think about how real and how present is the faith we profess,
In today’s scripture, Jesus seems indifferent to the plea of the Canaanite woman. The Canaanites were not Jews. They were pagans who worshipped many gods. Their sacrifices were seen by Jews as abominations. Most Jews of the time would withdraw from Canaanites. They would not interact with them.
Jesus seems at first to follow this approach.
But Jesus, who almost certainly was prepared to work the exorcism, wanted to effectuate a far greater miracle on that day on behalf of the woman, on behalf of the disciples with him, and on behalf of all of us, and to do that, he needed to try her faith. So, Jesus probes and says: “It is not right to take children’s bread and throw it t o the dogs. “The Canaanite woman answered within the cultural context of the time, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” With this gesture of humility, she professed herself as one who begged for the blessings that she knew only he was able to offer and no one else. She professed her faith in Jesus. Her faith was rewarded double-fold: an expression of admiration and an act of healing.
Therein lies a lesson for each of us.
It starts with humility. We need to humble ourselves before our God. What does that mean? Is certainly is not demeaning ourselves.
But it does mean that we acknowledge and live with God as the center of our lives and we trust that he will provide. The act of humility begins each day when we quiet ourselves, recognize our relationship with our God and ask him to be an active part of our day.
It’s no different than a child loving and trusting his parent. Each day they go for a walk and the child confidently puts his hand in his father’s hand and off they go. The child is instinctually trusting.
We need to learn how to instinctually trust God.
Too often we do not trust God. We pray and often we don’t seem to get a response. We pray again and it seems the door has remained shut. How we do handle it? Many give up, we stop praying, we think God doesn’t care, but what God is often doing in these circumstances is giving us a chance to learn how to pray perseveringly so that we may grow in faith to such a degree that we will always persevere in fidelity. Jesus is never silent. It’s only our ears failing to hear what he is saying or our minds rejecting the words because they are not what we want to hear.
The second lesson that springs from this Gospel is how we live and deal with the labels we use to define people.
We who follow Christ are asked to deal with other people in truth, not according to the false and prejudicial labels, which are often found in our environment. If we claim to be believers, we must not say, “This is the way Jews are. This is the way Muslims are. This is the way alcoholics, or homosexuals or people of a different race are.”
We must ask ourselves whether we are viewing others through our own real experience or through the prejudices that labels can convey. To allow our lives be directed by the half-truths of labels is a serious flaw. It places us in direct opposition to the design of God.
God makes people. We make labels. So instead of letting our lives be directed by the prejudices that a label can carry, we are obliged to discover and to respect the real people God has made.
We cannot claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ and use language and labels to set us apart. We are called to be inclusive and to live according to the great commandment.
Think about it. How many times a day do we use labels not just to define but also to include or exclude?
But we are all children of God.
I know that sounds like a simple sentiment. But we must live the faith that we believe.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, your love and mercy knows no bounds. May I trust you always and pursue you with indomitable persistence as this woman did. Increase my faith in your saving power and deliver me from all evil and harm.”
Jesus praises a Gentile woman for her faith and for her love. She made the misery of her child her own and she was willing to suffer rebuff in order to obtain healing for her loved one. She also had indomitable persistence. Her faith grew in contact with the person of Jesus. She began with a request and she ended on her knees in worshipful prayer to the living God. No one who ever sought Jesus with earnest faith – whether Jew or Gentile – was refused his help. Do you seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith?