Persistence and Faith
Jesus went to the regions of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from those territories came out and shouted, ”Show me mercy, Son of David. My daughter is suffering terrible from demon possession.” But he didn’t respond to her at all. His disciples came and urged him, “Send her away; she keeps shouting out after us.” Jesus replied, “I’ve been sent only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel.” But she knelt before him and said, “Lord, help me.” He replied, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs.” She said, Yes, Lord. But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall off their masters’ table.” Jesus answered. “Woman, you have great faith. It will be just as you wish.” And right then her daughter was healed.
~ Matthew 15: 21-28
This encounter was a turning point that addressed a new and radical decision for both Jesus and the woman. According to Matthew, until now Jesus’ earthly ministry had been a parochial and exclusive mission…The Canaanite woman broke the silence of this narrow perspective and because of her persistent insistence, Jesus extended his ministry. In response to her faith, and before the end of Jesus’ ministry, exclusiveness was no longer the final word.
~ Helen Bruch Pearson
This is a day of new beginnings,
time to remember and move on,
time to believe that love is bringing,
laying to rest the pain that’s gone.
~ Brian Wren
Jesus surprised this pagan woman because of her faith, not her faith in him, save as someone who could help. Nor her faith in her Phoenician gods. But faith in the ultimate goodness she saw in Jesus, hence her faith of which she was not yet fully conscious.
~ Andrew Greeley
In the exchange between Jesus and the Canaanite woman, Jesus shows his disciples what it means to make disciples of all nations. His location, actions and words all address the traditions, limitations and boundaries that the disciples will encounter. By pushing at, dismantling and crossing over the boundaries that the disciples might themselves put on “all nations,” Jesus foreshadows his intention to declare the boundaries of the great commission to be limitless.
~ Karoline M. Lewis
An outcast among outcasts,
dismissed with double scorn,
belittled by the labels:
“unclean” and “foreign born”
Came back with thanks for Jesus,
and then went on her way:
An outcast among outcasts
showed grateful faith that day.
~ Richard D. Leach
Even when God’s commands seemed unmistakably clear to Jesus – even when there was no room left for debate – the woman’s undaunted faith made Jesus reconsider. Although it seemed to contradict tradition and God’s command, Jesus changed his mind! Helen Bruch Pearson
These reflections are for the week of August 16-22 and are based on the scriptures for worship on August 16.
Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.