Jakarta, 20 August 2014
A Christian Pilgrim
O WOMAN, GREAT IS YOUR FAITH!
(A biblical reflection on the 20th Ordinary Sunday, 17 August 2014)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 15:21-28
First Reading: Isaiah 56:1,6-7; Psalms: Psalm 67:2-3,5-6,8; Second Reading: Romans 11:13-15,29-32
The Scripture Text
And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from the region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying 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.” And He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:21-28)
The story of the Canaanite women’s faith – a testimony to God’s love for all people in all nations – has brought hope and comfort to hurting souls in every age of the Church. Many people may wonder: “Is there any hope for me, a sinner? Is there any hope for my son’s incurable disease? For my sister who has fallen away from the Church? For my co-worker who has never been baptized and did not have a religious upbringing? For everyone who has been traumatized by abuse and neglect?” The answer is found in scripture over and over again: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:7). No one is excluded.
When this woman heard that Jesus had come to her town, her heart must have leapt in anticipation. She had probably heard stories about His miraculous works, perhaps had heard people say that He was a prophet from God. As she approached Him – presumably with a mixture of desperation and hope – she cried out: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon” (Matthew 15:22). Before making her request, she paid Him homage, showing herself to be one of the foreigners who “join themselves to the LORD, …… to love the name of the LORD, and to be His servants” (Isaiah 56:6).
When Jesus told her that He had been sent “only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24), she pressed on in faith: “Lord help me. …… even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” (Matthew 15:25,27). Moved by her humility and her conviction that He could heal her daughter, Jesus rewarded her faith (Matthew 15:28). Thus it was that an outsider – a Gentile – received the blessings of YHWH, the God of Israel.
God’s power and His desire to bless is not limited only to His chosen people; all His promises are still available to us today. We can enter into the healing presence of Jesus as we praise and worship God, imitating the Canaanite woman’s adoration. Just as she experienced the Father’s loving plan to deliver His people from the enemy, so too can we. With her, let cry out to the Lord: “Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You!” (Psalm 67:3)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for loving me. I give my life to You and I trust You to remove the things that keep me from knowing and experiencing Your love. You are my only hope! Amen.
Jakarta, 16 August 2014
A Christian Pilgrim