A reading from the gospel according to Matthew 15:21-28
21 At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
22 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.”
23 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.”
24 He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
25 But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
26 He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”
27 She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”
28 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.
Reflection: Persistence in Prayer
Good News: Let it be done for you as you wish.
Our gospel above is one of the most controversial stories in the bible. The heroine in the story is a Canaanite woman which means she does not belong to the chosen people. She approaches Jesus with loud pleas for the healing of her daughter who was tormented by a demon. The disciples wanted to send her away. Jesus too was initially dismissive of her and even compared her to a dog! The woman was undaunted. She knelt before Jesus, desperately crying and reasoning that even the dogs eat scraps that fall from their master’s table. At last, Jesus noticed her great faith and granted her wish.
We can speculate upon many reasons why Jesus compared the woman to a dog. Perhaps Matthew wanted to remind us of Rahab, another Canaanite woman in the genealogy of Jesus. Maybe Jesus wanted to test the woman’s faith. Maybe Jesus wanted to sound Jewish or Matthew tries to present Jesus as a champion of the Jewish tradition of separating themselves from unclean people. Whatever the reason is, the message of Jesus is clear. Like the woman in the story, we need to be persistent in our prayer request.
The woman loves her daughter very much and she desires healing for her. She heard about Jesus. He is the Lord, the son of David. She knew that He is her only hope. Although there were obstacles on her quest, she was obstinate and she will never give up until her request is granted. This is the kind of faith Jesus wants from us.
God is merciful. When we cry out to the Lord day and night, He will answer our prayer. What we wish will be done to us according to our faith.