Woman of great faith
August 7, 2019
18th Week in
1st Reading: Num 13:1-2, 25—14:1,26-29,34-35
Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. Now a Canaanite woman came from those borders and began to cry out, “Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not answer her, not even a word. So his disciples approached him and said, “Send her away: see how she is shouting after us.”
Then Jesus said to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel.”
But the woman was already kneeling before Jesus and said, “Sir, help me!” Jesus answered, “It is not right to take the bread from the children and throw it to the little dogs.” The woman replied, “It is true, sir, but even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said, “Woman, how great is your faith! Let it be as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
Jesus’ reaction to the Canaanite woman’s request for a miracle appears harsh. The least he could have done was to politely dismiss her. He did not. We even get the impression that he was insulting her when he compared her to a dog. This impression is wrong, though, since today’s Gospel story is not about discrimination and arrogance but about Faith. Jesus’ apparent harshness served to illicit from the woman an extraordinary exercise of faith, which in fact she did. “It is true, sir,” she said, “but even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.”
The woman’s statement reveals two indispensable components of faith, namely, humility and hope – humility in acknowledging that she was a pagan unworthy of divine favor, and hope for Jesus’ magnanimity to grant her even a morsel of that privilege despite her lowly status. These components make up the kind of faith that can “command a tree to uproot itself, or order a mountain to move”. God cannot resist the power of faith coming from a humble and hopeful heart.
Women are usually sensitive. The Canaanite woman already heard Jesus comparing her to dogs but her attention was on the essentials. She must have experienced lots of pain in her life and another one didn’t matter to her anymore. By persevering she was effectively declaring her faith that notwithstanding the apparent rebuff Jesus was merciful and meek of heart. In the end she got not just crumbs falling from the children’s table but the platter reserved to significant guests. More than a miracle for her daughter, she received the greatest compliment no pagan woman ever heard from Jesus. “Woman,” Jesus told her, “How great is your faith!” – (Atty.) Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., D.M.
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