Through the eyes of the Canaanite Woman

Matthew 15:21-28, the story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman, is one of the more troubling passages of the Bible for me:

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.

It wouldn’t surprise me if it was merely the disciples who responded to this woman without hospitality.  These warm friends of Jesus were so often mistaken when it came to bringing others into the fold.  But Jesus’ own words (insults!) and actions here seem very out of step with much of the rest of Jesus’ approach towards those on the margins.  In preparing for this reflection, I really felt compelled to try and listen to the forgotten voice of this courageous and tenacious woman, based on what is described in the text. Unfortunately, her own words and experience are unfortunately left up to our guesswork at this point, so what follows is my own guess as to what this might have looked like… Read the rest of this entry »