Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Earlier this summer I heard Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS, (of Nuns on the Bus fame) interviewed on the radio program On Being with Krista Tippett. The title was ”How to be Spiritually Bold.” She talked about how the experience of the bus tour came to be, her appreciation of the community created with all kinds of people, and her desire to be inclusive of “the 100%.” In dialogue with those we might refer to as people of means and influence, Sr. Simone discovered that “having curiosity to see [each other’s] perspective allows for finding new solutions. … How could I leave you out if I’ve heard your story? I can’t.”
The first reading told us that Canaanites were a “fierce” people. This woman wasn’t taking “no” for an answer and her persistence probably went on for at least an hour. We don’t hear all of her story, missing details of her circumstances, the impact of daughter’s condition on their family, the other healers and remedies they had tried. The woman’s spiritual boldness expanded Jesus’ vision of his mission. She didn’t ask for healing from a spirit of entitlement, rather a spirit of humility, faith in Jesus and a deep desire for her daughter’s healing. He couldn’t leave her out. She was bold enough to speak. He was bold enough to listen and allow his heart and mind to be changed.
Whom do I need to speak up for today? Whom do I need to listen with an open heart and mind?
—Jenene Francis is the provincial assistant for pastoral ministries for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.
Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately to grow in unity. The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another. We need to resolve our difference through forms of dialogue which help us grow in understanding and mutual respect. A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive.
—from “Message from Pope Francis for the 48th World Communication Day,” January 24, 2014