Jesus Honors a Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith
Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
At first sight today's gospel is completely confusing; kids, dogs, crumbs, what's it all about? And then you realise that Jesus is referring to the Jewish people as the children and the gentiles as dogs. This, to our modern minds, is about as insulting as it's possible to get; and I'm pretty sure it was not much better then. He was referring to how the Gentiles would bother the Jews, like dogs bother kids.
But this mother was desperate and she believed Jesus could help, she had thrown herself at his feet and was determined that He would help her child. Her faith and her statement that surely her child could receive even the crumbs of his ministry touched Jesus and he undertook the healing.
How many of us would have hung in there in such a conversation? would we have turned our back at the first refusal and given up? Do we give up on our faith? Do we give up on others?
Father we hear these cruel words and we find it hard to see you in this way; yet you showed your compassion and you healed despite it all. We ask for the ability to keep on asking and keep on giving. Amen.