She said . . . “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
A Canaanite woman met Jesus. In many of the encounters we have been reflecting on this month, Jesus was the one who brought a word of expansive love and grace. Jesus was the one who challenged boundaries between insiders and outsiders. Jesus was the one who encouraged religious authorities to show grace to sinners.
But in this encounter with a Canaanite woman, Jesus seemed to affirm some boundaries. He implied that because she was not an Israelite, it wasn’t in his job description to heal her daughter. He said, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” But the woman bravely and cleverly challenged these words, saying, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
What Jesus had said about his main mission to Israel was true; he was the Messiah who would fulfill God’s promises to the people of Israel (see Matthew 1). And yet, as the woman stated by faith, his mission was to save not only Israel but also the whole world. Jesus, of course, knew his whole mission and also that this woman had great faith—and he was delighted to hear her express it. He even said, “You have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed in the same moment.
Jesus always offers expansive grace. Let us give thanks that we can all receive this amazing grace from him!
God of grace, we are thankful for your grace so abundant and surprising. Help us to receive this grace and to offer it to others. Amen.
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