What are you willing to do for your faith, for what you believe?

At the core that’s the question we encounter with this Gospel.  It seems such an awkward episode.  Because, on the surface, Jesus’ conversation seems completely out of character, harsh, even demeaning to this Canaanite woman’s begging for her daughter to be healed.   She had heard, she had seen, she knew in her heart of hearts – that Jesus could help her.   That was her faith, that was her belief, that was where her confidence was – and nothing would shake her of that.  She’s no different than the woman we met in the Gospel (Matt 9: 20-22; Mark 5: 25034, Luke 8: 43-48) who suffers from hemorrhages for years who has the conviction of faith that “if I just touch him, I will be healed.”

Just an elementary study of the Gospels we know Jesus does desire her healing.  That’s why this interaction between Jesus and her is so awkward and out of character.  But whats an important point – Jesus desires not only to heal the Canaanite woman – He desires to heal the disciples – their closed minds, and hearts; to remove their prejudices, the limitations they have placed on what God can do and for whom.    His response about giving food reserved for the “children of Israel” to the “dogs” is a reaction to the disciples desire to “send her away.”  But look at what happened – She’s not embarrassed… she’s not intimidated… she’s undeterred… she takes the apparent slight – with humility and continued faith that this is the one who can heal her daughter she responds Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.

Jesus recognizes the heroic virtue and the woman’s steadfastness O woman, great is your faith!

The contrast is obvious – the guys who had been traveling, listening to Jesus, only days earlier had experienced the miracle of the loaves and fishes, had encountered Jesus walking on the water and Peter as well – already knew that Jesus could easily cast this demon out.  Yes they had left everything to follow Him, and perhaps they felt entitled or possessive at that point?  Because after that initial response to His call, much of what they had experienced didn’t cost them much.  They were kind of along for the ride.

Think about it, they hadn’t asked for Jesus to multiply the loaves and fish – they simply pointed out the problem (what was their reaction?  Dismiss the crowds, there’s not even enough for us)  They even mistake Jesus walking on water as a ghost.  When Peter tests Him and says “if it is you, call me out and let me do it too…” which he does and quickly falters as soon as it gets a bit windy.    They had faith, they did believe in Jesus – but he sees the limitations, the qualifiers they are putting on that faith.   Perhaps they didn’t realize that it was going to require more than just leaving everything behind and following, but a daily commitment to respond to God’s invitations and calls – deeper, further than they had ever imagined

For them to truly be his followers, his disciples, eventually broadcast this good news of salvation to the ends of the world, they have a lot of work to do.  To get to the obedience, the selfless, sacrificial love that is reflected in the passion, death and resurrection of the Cross – which Jesus can see in the love of this mother for her daughter.  As he challenges the disciples of then and now:

What are you willing to do for your faith, for what you believe?