I saw her across the courtyard and our eyes met.
We smiled politely and went about our business. She was an acquaintance, and I didn’t know her well. From our brief encounters, I had my opinion of her. That changed one afternoon when we were together at a function. Our chit-chat turned deeper and she shared a story that gave me a glimpse into her heart. There was pain I couldn’t have imagined. My perception of her shifted, the hard lines of her personality softened, and my unconscious stereotype of her crumbled.
Later that evening, I felt ashamed for having judged her without really knowing her. How many times have I looked at someone and automatically had an impression of them by the way they looked, dressed, or talked?
I can imagine the Apostles doing the same thing with the Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel.
Not only was she a foreigner and non-believer, but Canaanites often persecuted the Jews. You can hear their annoyance as they said, "Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us" (Matthew 15:23).
Jesus’ response seemed harsh, but He knew her heart. His words would test her faith, but also teach the others a lesson. This pagan woman believed in Jesus, persevered in her prayer, and trusted that God would answer. Jesus rewarded her faith with the immediate healing of her daughter as the Apostles, most likely, looked on dumbfounded.
There have been many times when people looked at me—a short, plus-sized, brown-skinned woman—and made assumptions about me. Sadly, I’ve done the same towards others.
Realizing this, my prayer is: Lord, forgive me for the times I have misjudged people. Help me to have an open heart and see people as You see them—my brothers and sisters in Christ. Grant me wisdom to view both sides of a story and empathy to understand their behavior and why they act as they do. Give me the humility necessary to truly listen and the strength and courage to act when necessary. Change my heart, Lord, so I may change this world for the better.