Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Even the Dogs

Today’s Gospel reading is one of my very favorites; Jesus was infinitely kind to women.

Here is a desperate woman, shouting for Jesus’ help. She is not a Jew, she is not even one of his followers. She is a mother with a very sick daughter. She will not be put aside. Jesus’ closest followers tell him to “make her go away.” She argues with Jesus, telling him even his smallest crumb of mercy will be enough, and he has mercy on her.

Matthew 15:21-28

21 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22Just 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.’ 23 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.’ 24 He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ 26 He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 27 She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ 28 Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

June 9, 2008 - Posted by | Character, Community, Cross Cultural, Family Issues, Interconnected, Relationships, Spiritual, Women's Issues


  1. oh, argh. I have a really hard time with this passage – for me it shows how narrow-minded Jesus was. What I like about Christianity and Islam is that there is no “chosen people” aspect to it. People choose to become (or be) Christian or Muslim – its not limited by birth.

    I do appreciate that it was a woman who opened Jesus’ eyes to the possibility of a broader mission, but I don’t like his initial narrowness – or how he describes non-Jews as dogs. Maybe the lesson for me is that this shows the human side of Christ: both in terms of his initial prejudice and his later capacity to learn and grow :).

    Comment by adiamondinsunlight | June 9, 2008 | Reply

  2. Very resist comment and clear hatred for the Canaanites by the redactor! I would really doubt that a prophet of god would say this to a woman.

    Comment by error | June 9, 2008 | Reply

  3. Little Diamond – but Jesus was a Jew – not only a Jew, but from a particular branch that had a special relationship with God. I don’t see this as narrow minded, but as mission-oriented – he was sent to bring the “lost” back into the fold. As his mission unfolds, it changes, thanks be to God, and you are right, it broadens, and hope is brought to the rest of the world. Or that, at least, is how my simple mind understands it.

    Error – you are absolutely right! Hatred was as common between strangers, tribes, clans, nations as it is now. And one of the lessons we are taught is that we are ALL of the same flesh and blood, all created by the one true God, and we are supposed to be kind, to live in peace with one another.

    Comment by intlxpatr | June 9, 2008 | Reply

  4. I think Jesus was being deliberately provocative in referring to the gentile as dogs. That was how some of the Jews at the time saw others. He was trying to teach his disciples a lesson. They urged Jesus to send her away and Jesus lulls them into a false sense of security by apparently colluding with their racism. But then he shocks his disciples by affirming the faith of the Canaanite woman and highlighting that God does not look at our race or religion, but instead God looks for faith in his Son, Jesus.

    Comment by revq8 | June 10, 2008 | Reply

  5. I think its important to understand that Jesus was most likely speaking “echoicly.” He was echoing the hearts and minds of his disciples in what he said. In other words, he was speaking ironically. The disciples wanted Jesus to send this woman away … they were tired of her nagging. So Jesus said what he did … not because it was true, but because it was so untrue! He was revealing the innermost thoughts of his disciples. Remember, he had just gotten done telling them that it is what comes out of someones mouth that defiles them, not something that goes in! He was revealing to them that what was coming out of their mouths wasn’t what it should be. They were more concerned about the fact that this women was a Gentile (someone who would eat non-kosher foods) than the fact that what came out of her mouth revealed her faith in Jesus. Jesus pushes her off so that her faith will be revealed through her persistence. And it was her faith in him that led to her daughter’s healing.

    Comment by Christof Weber | August 13, 2008 | Reply

  6. RevQ8 and Christof Weber – You are both learned men, and I am merely a woman who ponders these things in my heart. I think you are probably right, and yet – there is something in me that loves this story as it is, straight-forward, with no irony.

    Maybe that she believed in him so strongly, and was a Gentile – maybe this surprised even Jesus? I’m simple minded, so that is how it appears to me, and, even without the irony it is a story I love – that Jesus responded to her single minded persistence and granted health to her daughter.
    P.S. Welcome, Christof!

    Comment by intlxpatr | August 14, 2008 | Reply

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