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Matthew 15:21-28

The Word of God

Jesus 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.

Matthew 15:21-28
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Usually it is Jesus who shocks us, but here a poor woman, not a Jew, with no social standing, shocks Jesus into an awareness of his wider mission. Do I allow the pressing needs of others to reveal to me my mission? Or do I back off and ‘not answer at all’?
    • This encounter also teaches us something about prayer: this unnamed woman has a pressing need; she shouts until Jesus listens. She stands her ground and won’t back off. But she also has great faith, and is humble.
    • How honest are my conversations with God? Do I say what I really think? Do I pray for others? Can I wrestle with the Lord and refuse to take no for an answer?
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • This is not the first biblical figure to argue with the Lord: Genesis and Exodus tell of times when Abraham and Moses gave out to God. This woman is different from the scribes who often tried to trap Jesus with arguments. She is begging for her daughter. There is something teasing and humorous about Jesus' first reply to her. He enjoyed that Semitic style of thrust and counter. His first response is what we often experience in prayer: no give. But a mother seeking health for her child is not easily deterred, and Jesus rewards her persistence -- I imagine him smiling as he blesses her.
    • Lord I want to remember this. When I want something badly, I will keep after you and if necessary give out to you.
    • We admire the mother or father who really fights for their child. They won't take no for an answer if their child is being bullied or treated unjustly in any way, they will fight for the best medical treatment for their sick child. The woman in the gospel is like that. She has a sick child and really wants healing. Who would not want the same? She almost forces Jesus into curing her little daughter. Her persistence is an effect of her faith, and because of her faith Jesus cures her child.
    • There are many ways to ‘hear' words. They can be just sound, external meaning, like giving information or directions. The word of God is more like the word of a friend, spoken to the mind and to the heart. Or it is like the words of a caring parent giving advice or directions out of love. The Word of God gives meaning to life and is spoken always in love. Prayer is giving time to hearing this word on the deepest levels of our heart.
    • ‘Dogs' was a name for the Gentiles - and in this story the woman plays on its meaning to get Jesus to feed the dogs and, in this way, care for her. Maybe this is a ‘change moment' for Jesus when he realises through this poor woman that he is sent not only to his own lost ones, but that his mission is for the whole world.