Dear Followers of Jesus,
I adore the Canaanite woman. Matthew 15:21-28 invites us into the dialogue with Jesus and a woman who is considered to be an outsider. She comes to Jesus with a burdened heart. She knows intuitively that Jesus can heal her daughter who is tormented by a demon. She loves her daughter and wants the best for her.
Jesus really gives her the cold shoulder. In fact, the disciples try to talk with Jesus about sending her on the road, to get her out of their hair. The woman persists. Jesus says that his presence is for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
The woman turns the conversation around and stops Jesus in his tracks. She insists that even the dogs can eat the scraps that fall from the table. I love this. Jesus finds such great faith in the stranger and foreigner. Jesus proclaims, “ O woman, great is your faith!”
Most of us live our lives flying by the seat of our pants. We do not know where to turn when something major happens. Most people are not connected with the scriptures or the stories of Jesus and we feel left out when our lives take a turn for the worse. We blame God for not healing us, or at least stopping the suffering.
If your life feels out of control, then listen to this woman. Sit with this story and find your place in it. These gospels are not just cozy little stories that we tell at Mass because we do not know what else to say. These stories are brim full of grace, saturated with hope and overflowing with God’s real presence.
The woman was an advocate for her daughter whom she loved. I have to believe that she is also an advocate for people she has never met. It is easy for us to pray for people we love, too. We face more difficult times when we come to Jesus on behalf of people we do not know or who have never seen. I invite you to come to Jesus especially for people you have never met. We must do so. We need to pray for people engrained in the deep racism that shreds people’s dignity. We need to offer our lives in prayer for people who sell drugs to our children without our knowledge. We need to be at peace when the threats of war and violence capture us.
I hope you learn something from this woman. Pray for couples that are struggling to be faithful with each other. Pray for runway teens and children you have never known who face sex trafficking. Pray for our immigrants longing to find a safe place. Pray for your neighbor who is depressed. Allow the Canaanite woman to call you out of your shyness about coming to Jesus. Jesus is the one who heals us.