Jesus left Gennesaret and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. Then out came a Canaanite woman from that district and started shouting, ‘Sir, Son of David, take pity on me. My daughter is tormented by a devil.’ But he answered her not a word. And his disciples went and pleaded with him. ‘Give her what she wants,’ they said ‘because she is shouting after us.’ He said in reply, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ But the woman had come up and was kneeling at his feet. ‘Lord,’ she said ‘help me.’ He replied, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.’ She retorted, ‘Ah yes, sir; but even house-dogs can eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, you have great faith. Let your wish be granted.’ And from that moment her daughter was well again.
However one reads the encounter between Jesus and the Canaanite woman – Was he ‘just’ testing her? Did she get him to change his mind, and his mission? – what is at the heart of the account of it is a real encounter between Jesus and the woman. The disciples don’t want it. They just want her gone.
But for Jesus and the woman what ‘is’ matters. It is worth crying out for and it is worth defending, and at the end it is best worth sharing, for at the end – through real encounter – communion is not so much established as recognised. What they have in common is much more important than what ever distinguishes them.
Tu Veux Tu Peux. You Want You Can. Poster, Arles. (c) 2017, Allen Morris