Today’s Scripture readings are about the faith and salvation of the Gentiles. We know that the Jews at that time did not want to have anything to do with; and even looked down upon the Gentiles, which is what we would be if we were not a Jew.

The first reading Isaiah 56: 1, 6-7 reveals the promises that the Lord keeps to the foreigners / gentiles who join, serve, and praise Him, those who would keep His Sabbath un-profaned and remain faithful to His Covenant: The Lord will bring them to His Holy mountain, give them Joy in His House of prayer, accept on His altar, their burnt offerings and sacrifices and will also provide them with blessing and mercy.

In Matthew 15, we read that Jesus, a Jew, extends mercy to a Gentile, and even more shockingly, counter-culturally, a woman at that. With Jesus, a time of change was heralded.  Jesus was leading the disciples to think in new ways beyond the Law, to look at the world through the lenses of the Kingdom of God. The Jews were to be the first to receive the Word of God and His purpose was that they would take it out into all the world. Since the Jews failed to receive it themselves, Jesus Himself would make a way for ALL, Jew and Gentile, to hear the Word of God and be offered the free gift of salvation!

Not long after Jesus and His men arrived in Gentile territory, a Canaanite woman came to Jesus. To the Jews you were either a Jew or not! In fact, the Jewish people often referred to the Gentiles as dogs. Dogs in those times were not what we envision in our modern times -cute and domesticated pets we have at home. They were scavengers, which meant they were filthy from picking from the rubble and trash and therefore they were considered unclean. However, this woman did not seem to care much about what others thought about her. In fact, she was bold and very courageous. She approached Jesus, contrary to Jewish customs and terms by crying out to Him and recognising Jesus as, “Lord, and the Son of David” which was more than the religious leaders had done. She recognised that Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One descended from the line of David.

This is the first condition of prayer: to know how low and pitiable we are and who Jesus is. The Canaanite woman then asked Jesus to have mercy on her. She told Him that her daughter was suffering terribly from a demon possession. Jesus did not answer her immediately as He was testing her faith. This is how Jesus deals with us at times. He does not respond immediately.

Mistaking His silence for apathy or indifference, the disciples came to Jesus and urged Him to get rid of her, for her constant cry for help was annoying them. It was getting on their nerves and it was interfering with their time and work. Jesus finally turned to her and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” Either knowing or recognising this truth (though out of desperation for her daughter, this mother did not turn away hopeless) she drew closer and knelt before Jesus. Kneeling is a posture of humility and surrender. She again called Him Lord! Recognising Jesus as Sovereign ruler of the universe, she cried out to Him, knowing He was her only hope. She cried out because her need was great; the greater our need the more intense must our prayer be.  In verse 26 Jesus replied to her that, “it is not right to take the children’s (referring to the Jews) bread and give it to the dogs,” as she would have been called. But she humbly and boldly confessed that yes, though that was true, “even the dogs scavenge for the leftovers, the crumbs that fall from the table.”

In a sense she was saying: If that’s all you can give me Lord, I know it will be enough!

Jesus responded, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour! Though this woman was confronted by Jesus with the truth of her position, she humbly cried out to Him. She told Him her problem and she trusted Him to take care of it for her. For this, she was commended for her great faith. This was not merely limited to that one-time occurrence, but we are still talking about her faith today! Those who walk by faith in Jesus Christ will receive His goodness both now and forever.

Do you recognise, like this woman, Jesus’s Lordship over you and your life? Do you seek His help…His mercy? Do you trust Him not only in the good times but also in the trials of life? Do you seek His will for your life and/or the lives of others He has put in your care?

How can we learn from this woman’s faith, her humility, and her courage in the face of biasness? We will all face trials that will test and strengthen our faith. We may lose everything, but we must never lose our faith. God is faithful and He will keep His word. Stay strong and keep the Faith that will lead you to eternal life.

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Sonia and Rudy