Friday, 2 September 2016

The Canaanite Woman

Matthew15: 21-28
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.’ 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.’ 24 He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’ 25 The woman came and knelt before him. ‘Lord, help me!’ she said. 26 He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’ 27 ‘Yes it is, Lord,’ she said. ‘Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’ 28 Then Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed at that very hour.


All avenues had been explored
All possibilities exhausted
I was desperate
I’d done everything
Taken her to all the doctors
Tried all the quack remedies
But my poor beautiful, tormented daughter
Still suffered

I heard of a Jew
Of amazing things he was doing
whispers that here was the one
they’d been waiting for
hoping for      
praying for

The Messiah
The great leader
To free them from all enemies
Bringing peace and prosperity

And what’s more
I heard he was nearby

I saw him at a distance
surrounded by his followers
but there was no mistaking him
I knew no shame, no embarrassment
I’d gone way beyond that
Calling out
Lord Son of David
Have mercy on me
Lord have mercy
On my suffering daughter

He must have heard
Everyone must have heard
Turning to look
But looks couldn’t silence me

The men with him were uncomfortable
and embarrassed
They spoke to him
Urging him away, no doubt
from the mad gentile woman
who knew no shame
In trying to speak with a man
A Jewish man
A Jewish Rabbi

I knew he’d come for the Jews
I knew such a good thing as Jesus
Couldn’t be for us 
Couldn’t be for me
But I had to ask

He said something
And looked to move on
Then stopped, turned
And came over

I went closer
Looked in his eyes
And then everything changed
There was something In his look
A warmth, sympathy, assurance
a peace of which I knew nothing

All I’d heard about him
Was as a great political leader
But he’s so much more than that
And suddenly, it’s as though
We’re the only two in the whole world

I knelt at his feet in the dust
Lord, help me
And hear his voice
It is not right to take the children’s bread
and toss it to their dogs
What did he say?
Is it really the age old insult
“the gentile dog “?

I look up startled
To see a slight smile
And a look that challenges me
to respond
not to give up

Years of deference roll away
of knowing my place
of keeping quiet
amongst clever men
my silence broken
by my daughter’s need

I find my voice
And smile back at him
Yes Lord I say
Looking straight into his eyes
But even the dogs eat the crumbs
that fall from their masters’ table

Now there’s almost a grin
Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted

I could have looked at him forever
I could have followed him forever
But I have to see my daughter
I know that with him, crumbs are enough
And nothing will be the same
For her
Or for me.