“A Canaanite woman called out to Jesus, ‘Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.’ He did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps calling out to us.’ He replied, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But the woman came and did him homage, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He said in reply, ‘It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Please, Lord, even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.’ 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.”
I do not know anyone, neither man nor woman, that would have responded with such humility to such humiliation. I know NO ONE, including myself. Well, there may be one, but I’m not sure I would want to put them to the test!
I have heard and read plenty of homilies and reflections based upon this Gospel passage. Almost all of them attempt to ease and dilute the Lord’s words. But the fact remains as it should remain: the Lord was very harsh to this woman.
Just read the above dialogue! Let’s not try to brush it off! This is what I love about our God, our faith and our Church. Instead of the Apostles burying this incident in the secret achieves of the Vatican, we have it documented in Sacred Scripture, from the very beginning, and it has been translated in hundreds of languages for all the world to see and read. Our Lord is not peach fuzz. He is not a kitten. The Lord is, as C.S. Lewis puts it, a fury and untamed Lion!
How many of us would take such humiliating words, especially after crying our heart out? How many of us would be able to accept rejection and still smile? This woman believed in God more than the Apostles did! Instead of arguing with the Lord, she honored the Lord! Instead of bowing down under pressure, she bowed out of love for the Lord. Instead of reporting this incident to the Sanhedrin or Chief Priest, she, like Mary, kept all these things in her heart. Think about it. She never said anything. This incident was never mentioned at the Lord’s trial. We only know about it because the Apostles wrote about it, and they only wrote about it because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write about it.
If only we could have this woman’s faith! How little she is and how great is her faith. I guess she brings a whole new meaning to the parable of the mustard seed. To have faith the size of a mustard seed means to make yourself less than the size of a mustard seed! Only then will it be great.
Too often I receive messages from people who tell me that they will never go back to their old sinful ways. Typically, these messages are sent to me after they have gone on a retreat. They fool themselves! They will go back and back and back until they learn to make themselves small, small and small, as small as a mustard seed. They will continue to go up… and down, up… and down, up… and down, like a teeter totter, until they put their faith through fire, into practice, through obedience. Are you ready to love the Lord at all costs? Even at the cost of being called a dog? Even at the cost of being called out or cast aside?
At times the Lord knocks us down so he can lift us up…up…up and away!
O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’