At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus 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, for 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 the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.
Two things came to mind as I was praying on this Gospel passage at Mass today. Part of the homily broke open the intention behind Jesus's harsh words to the Canaanite woman. While it seems that he is being rude, it may instead be that he was doing so intentionally, so as to hold a mirror up to the faces of the Jews as a reflection of their own ugliness toward the Gentiles. That got me wondering, who are our dogs? Who are those we feel are not worthy of the banquet table of Christ, and might we be holding back even the scraps from their souls?
The other thought that came to mind was whether I was willing to risk rebuke, ridicule, and scorn to seek out Jesus for the dogs...not for myself, but for those who are dying (body, mind, or spirit) and cannot seek the Lord themselves. What do I do to intervene, and do I take action even when it may not be easy?
If the Lord encountered me on the road today, would he walk on by as I was busy with my life, or would I be bold enough to stop Him that He might say of me, "O, woman, great is your faith!" Praying the week ahead provides us ample opportunity and boldness to seek after the Lord for those on the margins.
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