The Canaanite woman who approached Jesus about healing her daughter was operating outside of societal norms by approaching Jesus seeking help without having a male companion with her. In spite of Jesus’ response to her, which was ugly and showed Jesus’ real humanity in this moment, the woman persisted in advocating for help for her daughter. She talks back to Jesus in a way showing she would not back down nor take “no” for an answer from Jesus to advocate for her daughter. In this unprecedented time, we live in, we are called, just like the Israelites were told to do in Isaiah, to understand that God’s love is for all peoples as the boundaries are expanded in Isaiah 56. We are all called to be unified in the Love of God, crossing racial, ethnic and sexual biases and working against barriers to gain access to equity for all. We can look to the persistence of the Canaanite Woman in this text as a model for how to persist in spite of challenge.
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MATTHEW 14: 22-33
The Covenant Extended to All Who Obey
Thus says the Lord: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.
And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.
Matthew 15: 21-28 (NRSV)
The Canaanite Woman’s Faith
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.