Jesus’ disciples ask him to send the woman away; she has nothing to do with them, nor they with her. In telling her that he is for “Israel only,” Jesus probably implies that she better go to the prophets of Baal, the Canaanite god, to petition Baal to cure her daughter. Jesus is not being cruel; he is testing how far the woman will go to save her daughter. The Canaanite woman remains persistent in her supplication; she accepts humiliation, content with even just the “scraps” of the bread intended for Israel. In the end, the initial reluctance of Jesus and the limitation that he mentions about his mission are overcome by the woman’s persistence and great faith.
GOSPEL • MATTHEW 15:21-28At that time Jesus withdrew 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 he 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.
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