A Manifestation of Faith
Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him. She came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” Mark 7:25-27
Why did Jesus talk to this woman that way? She comes to Him, probably in fear and trembling, falls down at His feet, and begs Him to help her daughter. At first, one might expect Jesus to reach out in gentleness and compassion, ask her about her daughter, and say to her, “Oh, most certainly I will help your daughter. Bring me to her.” But that’s not what He says. He tells her, that “it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” Ouch! Really? Did He really say that? Why would He say such a thing?
First of all, we have to know that whatever Jesus says is an act of love. It’s an act of the greatest kindness and mercy. We know this because this is who Jesus is. He is love and mercy itself. So how do we reconcile this apparent contradiction?
The key to understanding this interaction is to look at the final result. We must look at how this woman responded to Jesus and how the conversation ended. When we do this, we see that the woman responds with incredible humility and faith. What Jesus says is true. In a way, we can interpret what He says to mean that no one has a right to His grace and mercy.
No one, including her and her daughter, “deserve” to have God act in their lives. Jesus knows this and, by saying what He says, gives this woman a wonderful opportunity to manifest her deep faith for all to see. His words allow her to shine forth as a beacon of faith, hope and trust. This is Jesus’ goal and it worked. It worked because, when she came to Him, He was immediately aware of the fact that she did indeed have a deep faith. He knew that she would respond with humility and trust. The woman did and thus we are able to witness the manifestation of her faith and humility.
Reflect, today, upon the beautiful faith of this humble woman. Try to put yourself in her shoes and hear Jesus speak these same words to you. How would you respond? Would you respond with anger or agitation? Would your pride be wounded? Or would you respond with an even deeper humility, acknowledging the fact that all God gives is a gift which we have no right to receive. Responding this way is most likely the act of faith God is waiting for from each of us and is the key to that outpouring of His mercy we so need.