This is a troubling passage in many ways. At first it appears that Jesus did not listen to the woman’s cries and then there is this odd conversation between Jesus and the woman.
In the first part of this gospel reading, Jesus instructs the disciples that it is not what you eat that makes you unclean, but how you speak and act. This Canaanite woman does not eat the way that the Jews eat; she is not welcome at their table.
When the Canaanite woman pleaded with Jesus to heal her child, Jesus did not immediately respond. Instead, we hear the disciples dismiss this woman who is not Jewish, not one of them. When do we, as Church, need to take time to enter into uncomfortable silence in order to listen to those who are different than us who are crying out in need?
Jesus hears the disciples’ disregard for the woman and seems to answer in a way that agrees with them. Yet, uncharacteristic of many Jewish leaders, Jesus speaks to the woman, giving her an opportunity to respond back to him. With whom, as Church, do we need to enter into conversation in order to share table fellowship?
The woman knows who Jesus is: the Son of David, the Jewish Messiah. When she responds to Jesus, asking for a share in the fellowship meal, Jesus acknowledges her relationship with him by commending her faith and healing her daughter. How can we, as Church, help those who know Jesus but are not part of our community grow in their faith in Jesus?