Last weekend I had the privilege of being the Church’s witness at my sister’s wedding. It was a great celebration. As I was standing on the top step of the sanctuary watching people enter the Cathedral I couldn’t help but notice how their disposition went from laughter, fun and joy to very serious as they entered. I think we can all fall into this trap sometimes. That trap being that the Church is not a place where we can have fun or smile. Perhaps the Canaanite woman can teach us a few things.
Picture this: Jesus heads off to the region of Tyre and Sidon to take some downtime. Now, word must have spread that Jesus, this miracle-working Messiah, was in town because our brave sister from Canaan comes bounding up, desperately seeking some divine intervention for her daughter’s demon problem.
But here’s where the story takes an unexpected comedic turn. Jesus, who usually dishes out healings like they’re going out of style, responds with what seems like a brush-off: “It’s not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” Ouch, right? Jesus just called this woman and her daughter, dogs. It’s a good thing she didn’t have a literal bone to pick with him!
But let’s not forget, this Canaanite mama has got the determination of a bulldog. Instead of storming off in a huff, she snaps back with a rather witty reply, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Mic drop! It’s like she’s saying, “Sure, I may be a dog in your analogy, but even dogs get some crumbs of grace!”
When I imagine this passage in my head I imagine Jesus having a bit of a laugh at this point. A laugh that contains how utterly impressed he is by her faith and determination. He exclaims, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” Imagine the disciples’ faces: “Did we just witness a holy stand-up routine?”
The Canaanite woman’s persistence and quick wit turned the tables on Jesus, reminding him that even the outsiders deserve a slice of the heavenly pie. It’s a divine comedy moment that showcases the depth of Jesus’ compassion and the power of unwavering faith. Plus, it gives us all a good chuckle about the lengths this woman went to score a healing for her daughter.
So, my friends, the moral of the story is clear: when life gets rough, channel your inner Canaanite woman and persist with a dash of humour. And remember, even if you’re feeling like the underdog, there’s a chance that divine crumbs of blessings might just be falling your way.
Fr Isaac Falzon