Mt 15: 21-28
Jesus left that place and 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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Seeing outside our own ideas
Too often we lose sight of the context when considering today’s Gospel. The exegetes (Scriptural interpreters), for example, labor to get a sense of what Jesus may mean by his reference to feeding dogs from the family table. That exegesis, though valuable, is secondary to another concern. In particular, we would do well to see that the Canaanite woman is juxtaposed with the disciples. While she is begging Jesus to show her pity, the disciples are dismissive of her. Why are the followers of Jesus so quick to dismiss someone in need? This woman, albeit a Gentile, was in serious despair, and Jesus would be able to help. The disciples, though, could not see Jesus’s ministry extending beyond their own clan. In our case, how often do we stand in the way of the Lord because of our own prejudice, or perhaps because of our own agitation with the requests of others?
—Deacon David A. Lugo, SJ, is a transitional deacon of the Central and Southern Province who was ordained to the priesthood on August 15th in St. Louis, MO. He studies theology at Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid, Spain.
Prayer for Compassion
Teach me how to be compassionate to the suffering,
to the poor, the blind, the lame, and the lepers;
show me how you revealed your deepest emotions,
as when you shed tears,
or when you felt sorrow and anguish
to the point of sweating blood
and needed an angel to console you.
Above all, I want to learn
how you supported the extreme pain of the cross,
including the abandonment of your Father.
—Pedro Arrupe, SJ