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.
How often do we, like the disciples in today’s Gospel, divide the world into “us” and “her”/“they”? I imagine that most of us, if we are being honest, could replace “her” with a group of people, or a particular person, that we wish to maintain distance from and distinguish from “us.”
The tenacity of the Canaanite woman – her holy boldness – wears down Jesus’ own narrow thinking. She persists in her vision that even Gentiles (the “dogs”) desire and deserve the compassion, healing and belonging that Jesus offers. And we see Jesus grow beyond his discomfort and narrow vision to embrace the fullness of his mission to all people, not just the children of Israel.
Today, I consider the following two questions:
Who in my life keeps calling out after me for compassion, desiring to be heard?
How will I respond?
—Dan Finucane teaches theology and coordinates Campus Ministry activities at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis MO.
Jesus, my best companion throughout the day,
help me to recognize your face in each person I meet today.
Teach me to accept and respond with your presence and grace and hope.
—The Jesuit prayer team