From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.
He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Scholars cite this story, which also appears in Matthew’s Gospel, as a rare instance when Jesus’ own view of his ministry is challenged. The woman’s wit and sharp retort make way for a new gift of healing, and shine a light on how powerful the gift of faithful courage can be.
As the Catholic Church and other religious organizations adjust to modern life, may we look to this strong woman who was able to speak truth in an inspiring way, a way that opened up new avenues of healing. In what ways can I help my community of faith become more expansive, more inclusive of healing in all forms? How can I be inspired by this woman’s faithful courage?
And from a different perspective, how can I see anew the growing need for the voices of strong and faithful women in the administrative structure of the Church?
—Charlotte Ahern is a wife and mother of three college-aged children. She is also a spiritual director and retreat leader at Jesuit schools in the Chicago area.
Lord my God, when Your love spilled over into creation, You thought of me. I am…from love…of love…for love.
—Jacqueline Syrup Bergan and Sister Marie Schwan, excerpted from Love: A Guide for Prayer, © Loyola Press, 2004.Please share the Good Word with your friends!