This passage reveals some very important things. One is that God was working in this pagan woman, much the same way as He did Peter when he accurately identified Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Mt 16). How on earth would this pagan woman know to call Jesus the Son of David and turn to Him for help? It was God who moved her. Why? He wanted to reveal to everyone, most especially the Disciples, that the Gentiles were going to be brought under the covering of the New Covenant. Remember, the Disciples just wanted to send her away, but Jesus does not send anyone away who truly seeks Him. When Jesus says “I was sent to bring back the lost sheep of Israel” there are two things happening. One is that He is saying He is the One, the expected Messiah, Who would bring back the lost sheep of Israel (Ez 34:23-24). He’s actually saying that He is going to fulfill a messianic prophecy. The second important thing is that the woman can be seen as representative of those lost sheep. To understand this, we must remember our biblical history. What happened to those northern tribes of Israel? Where did those lost sheep go? Centuries before they had conquered by pagan armies and the ones who survived were absorbed into pagan culture. The “lost tribes” became part of the “nations”, their descendants were of Israelite heritage but they were now Gentiles. The Messiah has to come for the lost sheep of Israel precisely by reaching out into the nations. What we see in this extraordinary passage is the beginning of the work of bringing the lost tribes back to God as well as those Gentiles who were never even under the Old Covenant. However, they are coming back to God under the New Covenant, not the Old Covenant. So the Apostles (who are the first leaders of our Church) were later commanded to go out into* the nations* to baptize and bring the nations into the Church. By doing so, Jesus, the Messiah, is bringing the lost sheep back into their fold (as well as all of humanity who would believe in Him).
I agree with others that Jesus is really putting the woman to the test. She is undeterred. This is another great example for us. When we seek Jesus, there are often trials and obstacles. Are we just going to give up? No way! Jesus is likely putting her to the test precisely so we can see and the Disciples could see her unshakeable faith. He wasn’t being mean or ornery, He was teaching.
This passage is way deeper than it would appear on the surface. Really good stuff!
PS. Our priest said today that lots of commentators try to sugarcoat the part about the dogs. Don’t fall for that, he said, that** is** how Jews thought of Gentiles. Jesus is putting it out there for us to see. When the Disciples heard this they were probably thinking “Yeah, go home dog!” But then Jesus healed her daughter! He recognized her faith-- as He does in other Gospel passages with other Gentiles. I can only imagine how this confused the Disciples but it was just another seed Jesus was planting for later on. Another thing that our priest said is that it should make you pause and think of how you think of people of other religions or non-believers.