Matthew 15:21-28

jeans hem by liz west, on Flickr

In this passage we read of the story of the Canaanite woman who begs Jesus to heal her daughter. On one level, it can be seen as yet another of Jesus’ healing miracles, which were often signs to those around that he was the Son of God and that the Kingdom of God was close at hand. The healing happens to a ‘non’ Jew – a Gentile, showing that the Kingdom of God is for all, not just for Jews.

But there are some other interesting aspects to this story. This woman had great faith and great persistence. She must have been at her wits end trying to do the best for her sick daughter, but nothing had worked up to this point. So maybe she had heard rumours about Jesus, this new Messiah, that he was a great healer and she wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass by. To get noticed she had to shout: ‘Sir, Son of David take pity on me’. Nobody responded. But she didn’t give up, she persisted. It was the disciples who then pleaded with Jesus: “Give her what she wants because she is shouting after us.” Did they just want to shut her up or did she touch the compassion in their hearts? Whichever, they were instrumental in pointing Jesus to her. Then she had the courage to argue with Jesus, that even the ‘dogs’ can have the crumbs under the table. Meaning that even people who are not Jewish, can still have a ‘crumb’ of the Kingdom of God. What bravery, what insight, what intelligence and her great faith was enough for her wish to be granted, her daughter was healed.

The other thing that is outstanding about this story is the powerful love this Canaanite woman has for her daughter. She reminds us of mothers today in the same part of the world, who are shouting for their children. Mother’s in Syria, mothers in Iraq, mothers in Lebanon, Christian mothers fleeing with their children from Qaraqosh, mothers trapped on Mount Sinjar by ISIS fighters with no food or water, mothers in Gaza in the middle of a war.

The following poem is written by a mother in Gaza:

Running Orders

by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Mother in Gaza

 They call us now. Before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic “This is David.”
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies still smashing around in my head
I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?”
They call us now to say Run.
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message. Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of war time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow and there are more human lives packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth
Just run.
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that you can’t call us back
to tell us the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
that there’s no one here except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina, sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
counting candles left in case the power goes out.
It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place and now is your chance to run to nowhere.
It doesn’t matter that 58 seconds isn’t long enough to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket or your daughter’s almost completed college application
or your shoes or to gather everyone in the house.
It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are. Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.

  • Take a moment to pray for those parents whose children have died or are injured because of war or persecution in the middle east…. Lord have mercy.
  • What are the cries in our own hearts for our children? Lift them to God. …Lord have mercy.
  • For all Christians being persecuted……Lord have mercy.

For more information about the poem see Jonathan Cook blog from Gaza: