I like to get into the mind of that mother in today’s Gospel and notice how her love for her daughter gives her the adrenaline to kneel in front of Jesus, address him as Son of David and her Lord, and match wits with him until he unleashes his mercy and power.
And there isn’t a mother out there who isn’t doing this every day. Lord, my son is bipolar and can’t hold down a job. Lord, my daughter is chronically depressed. Lord, my children don’t go to church and haven’t baptized my grandchildren. Lord, I’ll do anything, say anything, be anything you want me to be. Please just heal my child.
And I think the story is a set-up, of course. Jesus ignores her at first. Finally, after she has done everything she can to flatter and honor him, he throws out the ultimate challenge: why should he heal her Canaanite daughter ―a “dog” in his racist Middle Eastern culture—when his mission is to the Jews alone?
And she returns his volley like no one else in Matthew’s gospel: Lord, even the dogs get the scraps from the table. Now, what happened next didn’t get recorded, but can’t you imagine the two of them just roaring with laughter? Jesus, delighted that she saw through his little test of her faith, congratulates her on the faith he is trying to instill in his own Hebrew race. And I’ll bet she took him aside and said We felt your love before you ever reached the city gates. Blessed are you for seeking us out and bringing us into your kingdom.
In what ways have you persevered in prayer throughout your life?
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).