The Canaanite Woman’s Faith

Matthew 15: 21-28
Nm 13:1-2.25–14:1.26-29.34-35 / Ps 106

Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.
(Matthew 15:28)

God always tests our fidelity
Before our prayers are granted;
Those who pray in all humility
Will never be disappointed.

Jesus and His disciples came to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Matthew 15:21-28)


The story of the Canaanite woman reminds me of a former housemaid of my parents, who was always coming to my office to seek financial help for her innumerable problems. Employed as a street sweeper, her meager salary could not make ends meet. For me she had become a pest, putting my Christian values to the test. One trying Monday morning, after two people had come to ask for help (one could not be accommodated), she could not have come at the worst time. Coming through the door unannounced, I scolded her for the intrusion. She said it was only for a small favor. “But why does it always have to be me?!” I almost shouted at her. Crying now, she tried to explain that she had no one else to turn to for P150.00 for notarial fees to help her detained son. It was then that I realized how my prejudice had compromised my better judgment for such a small amount.

That incident with the persistent poor woman brought home a number of lessons: 1) Like Jesus in today’s Gospel, we must always be sensitive to the needs of others, whatever their status; 2) A mother’s love for her offspring will endure and overcome all tests and trials; 3) Prejudice or bias (like the apostles’ attitude to the woman) often gets in the way of helping others; and 4) In the end, perseverance always pays. Let us learn from the Canaanite woman. Four times her faith was tested: first, in Jesus’ silence; then the apostles’ remark to send her away; third, Jesus’ words, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel”; and finally, referring to Canaanites as dogs.

God’s primary plan in our life is the development of our faith, which would never mature under normal conditions. Trials and troubles are part of its growth. God wants us to remove all doubts, prejudices, and negative attitudes in our hearts and minds; He wants us to trust Him, to believe that His plans are only for our own good.

Let our faith be like that of the Canaanite woman, Lord, full of perseverance and fortitude. For nothing is too great or too small for the miracle of your love. Amen.

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