As Jesus and his group entered the land of Canaan, a woman pleaded with him to heal her daughter of a demon. Although she was not Jewish, she called Jesus, “Lord” and “Son of David.” Jesus gave no reply. Clearly annoyed by the woman, the disciples asked Jesus to just send her away. Jesus said that he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel, which the disciples would have known. “Right,” they must have thought. “So, send her away already.” Finally, Jesus answered the woman in a way the disciples must have appreciated: “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” (The Jews referred to the Canaanites as dogs). I can imagine the disciples responding with, “Right, Lady. So leave already. You’re not one of us!”
But the Canaanite woman, a woman of great love and faith, was not to be put aside so easily. She looked Jesus in the eyes and replied, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” How pleased Jesus must have been with this woman! “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
Jesus was always trying to broaden the disciples’ understanding of the Kingdom of God. I think at the heart of their behavior (and often our own children’s behavior amongst their siblings) is the fact that, although they are aware of their beloved “chosen-ness” as disciples, they are self-absorbed and have forgotten the whole reason why Jesus chose them, and why they live in this lavish love. He drew them close to become his disciples to then spread and give his love to all—essentially, they are called his beloved to go and make disciples of all nations, all peoples, whether they look, talk, or act like them or not. We are always a people of mission. Yes, perhaps Jesus was pressing the theme, and testing them, or trying to model how ridiculously selfish and lacking in love their “standard” was. Then the precious woman, with a heart of gratitude seemed to know (in her state of humility) that any abundance from Jesus is wildly beyond what she could have imagined or deserved. And isn’t this true for each one of us?