20th Sunday in OT (Is 56:1,6-7; Matt 15:21-28)
PONDERING GOD’S WORD (Meditation)
Jesus goes to the peripheries: to Tyre and Sidon. He encounters someone in the margins: the Canaanite woman. The woman was asking for a “long distance miracle,” that her daughter (who was not there) be delivered from a demon that was tormenting her. This recalls an earlier miracle in Matthew (8:5-13) where Jesus does a similar “long distance miracle,” with another non-Jew (the Centurion) asking Jesus to cure his servant.
In this episode, the situation is interesting: the woman is shouting; Jesus does not respond; the disciples, who cannot stand her, plead with Jesus to give what she wants. The woman, even though a non-Jew, knows who Jesus is and she is well aware of the wonders that he can do. The disciples look only at their convenience in wishing that her prayer be heard. Jesus does not respond—initially, perhaps to teach a lesson out of this occasion.
Jesus makes the statement that emphasizes the priority of his mission: the House of Israel. He uses the metaphor (more endearing rather than insulting) that helping her is akin to taking the children’s food and throwing it to puppies. She bravely responds to Jesus’ statement following up the metaphor, that non-Jews are also entitled to the scraps from what Jesus gives. Her answer is praised by Jesus who affirms her faith and cures her daughter.
- A quality of Jesus in the gospel reading is his mercy and kindness extending to those in the margins. How do I make this quality my own?
- Does my faith make me persistent in my prayer to God?
Like the Canaanite woman, ask the Lord for a special grace (healing for a loved one, or resolution to a problem). Plead like the woman in the gospel. Pray also for the gift of faith.
Fr. Joel N. Camaya, SDB
Don Bosco Center of Studies