First Reading: Numbers 13:1-2, 25–14:1, 26A-29A, 34-35
The LORD said to Moses [in the desert of Paran,] “Send men to reconnoiter the land of Canaan, which I am giving the children of Israel. You shall send one man from each ancestral tribe, all of them princes.” After reconnoitering the land for forty days they returned, met Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation of the children of Israel in the desert of Paran at Kadesh, made a report to them all, and showed the fruit of the country to the whole congregation. They told Moses: “We went into the land to which you sent us. It does indeed flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit. However, the people who are living in the land are fierce, and the towns are fortified and very strong. Besides, we saw descendants of the Anakim there. Amalekites live in the region of the Negeb; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites dwell in the highlands, and Canaanites along the seacoast and the banks of the Jordan.” Caleb, however, to quiet the people toward Moses, said, “We ought to go up and seize the land, for we can certainly do so.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We cannot attack these people; they are too strong for us.” So they spread discouraging reports among the children of Israel about the land they had scouted, saying, “The land that we explored is a country that consumes its inhabitants. And all the people we saw there are huge, veritable giants (the Anakim were a race of giants); we felt like mere grasshoppers, and so we must have seemed to them.” At this, the whole community broke out with loud cries, and even in the night the people wailed. The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: “How long will this wicked assembly grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the children of Israel against me. Tell them: By my life, says the LORD, I will do to you just what I have heard you say. Here in the desert shall your dead bodies fall. Forty days you spent in scouting the land; forty years shall you suffer for your crimes: one year for each day. Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me. I, the LORD, have sworn to do this to all this wicked assembly that conspired against me: here in the desert they shall die to the last man.”
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 106:6-7AB, 13-14, 21-22, 23
Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people. We have sinned, we and our fathers; we have committed crimes; we have done wrong. Our fathers in Egypt considered not your wonders. But soon they forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel. They gave way to craving in the desert and tempted God in the wilderness. They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds in Egypt, Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham, terrible things at the Red Sea. Then he spoke of exterminating them, but Moses, his chosen one, Withstood him in the breach to turn back his destructive wrath.
Gospel: Matthew 15: 21-28
At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.
Though it may seem otherwise, Christ was not being cold-hearted to the mother in the Gospel reading. He was not humiliating her, calling her a dog, and saying that she wasn’t good enough. Instead, I believe He was exposing the fullness of her faith and humility.
I am impressed with this Canaanite woman. She was a devoted and very worried mother. She was in need of a miracle and in her desperation she had a literal “Come to Jesus Moment.” Her love for her daughter made her persistent. Her faith that Christ could save her daughter was so powerful that Jesus was moved by it and did as she asked. A miracle happened and the Canaanite woman’s story was recorded to be a witness to us all, throughout the ages.
Sometimes when we pray it seems like God is ignoring us. He doesn’t answer us when we call out to Him, and in our discouragement we feel like we have been dismissed from His presence. Remember the Canaanite woman. Remember that she kept calling out to our Lord. She was not afraid to hash things out with Him; she was not afraid to look a fool.
If you are in a time of dryness, darkness, or unanswered prayers perhaps God is exposing the fullness of your faith and humility. Perhaps God is actually setting the scene for a miracle.
Bonnie Engstrom is a writer, baker, speaker and homemaker. She lives with her husband and five children in central Illinois. You can find out more about her here.