REFLECTION: The Canaanite woman: ‘Have faith’

August 20, 2017 - 7:12 AM
Reflection file photo by Bernard Testa/InterAksyon.

Jesus went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”

But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”

He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”

He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”

She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.
—Matthew 15:21-28

Pity, mercy, and compassion have the same meaning. We ask pity from those who can help us. Those we consider sensitive to our needs and those who can offer some support and assistance. We do not want to get sick, we want to be well—we want to be in good health.

People suffer various illnesses. These include sickness from all aspects—physical, social, moral, psychological, and spiritual, among others. We look for cures when we are sick. To whom shall we go to when we are weak and ill? Medical professionals help us diagnose our sickness and suggest the proper medication.


In our gospel reading today, a Canaanite woman (a non-Jew) approached Jesus to ask for help. She referred to Jesus as the Son of David (who is considered by the Jews as the great King of Israel even to this day) and acknowledged Jesus as a master and healer.

The Canaanite woman asked Jesus to have mercy on her and her daughter who was sick and tormented by the demon. Even if she wasn’t being heard initially, her efforts paid off and Jesus was able to give her his attention and help.

Illnesses may not always be personal but also social. Sickness in our family, community, country, and in our world. When one experiences moral or spiritual illness, it means the person is detached from his/her humanity and God is far from him/ her. In this case, God is the only cure.

He is the truth and the only way to genuine faith, hope, justice, and peace. The Canaanite woman had a strong faith in God. She was convinced that she can only find real mercy and complete healing only through Jesus.

In the gospel reading, Jesus had remarked that salvation is for the family of Israel. The Canaanites were not mentioned by him. Still, the Canaanite woman insisted that salvation can still be received. To receive God’s mercy even if it just portion of it may be given by Jesus. The metaphor and imagery of scrap on the table that are eaten by dogs, is an image of desperation especially for the woman who was begging Jesus for mercy because she had great faith in him.

Jesus was overwhelmed by the faith of the woman; it is great faith from a non- Israelite.

Let us ask God to give us the faith of the Canaanite woman so we can also partake in God’s saving love.

Let us pray, reflect and ask ourselves:
Am I well and spiritually healthy?
Am I happy with what is going on in my life?
How do I handle sickness and pain that comes my way?
Do I trust in the Lord at all times?
Do I have the same faith like the Canaanite woman?
Do I really believe that only God can heal me and restore me to health?

Almighty and Ever-living God, keep us in your merciful and loving heart. Heal us in whatever infirmities and illnesses that we have. Like what you had done to the Canaanite woman, have mercy on us too. Strengthen our faith in You through the Holy Spirit that sanctifies and inspires us every moment of our lives.

Have mercy on us and show us always the way towards you so we can know you more, follow you more closely and love you more. This we ask through Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Let us pray for those who are sick, who are in the hospitals or in their homes, those who suffer and are in pain. May the Lord touch them and heal them so they may be restored in helath and in God’s bosom.