[quote=Fr. Charles Irvin]Then comes the second movement. The woman presses in on Jesus and falling on her knees in front of Him she cries out, “Lord, help me.”
For her second effort Jesus tells her, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”
How utterly humiliating. In effect He was calling her a dog! Her humility was turned into what appeared to be a terrible humiliation. People in the Middle East are very sensitive to such things.
Then comes the final movement. Now, in abject humility with her face in the dirt, stripped of her dignity, having abandoned her own religious background, she has nothing left, not even her pride. “Please, Lord,” she softly insists, “even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”
What the Canaanite woman is saying is that she doesn’t deserve anything, “but how about giving me scraps that accidentally fall from your abundance?”
With that, the heart of Jesus is vanquished. The scene would be repeated later at the end of His life. His own humiliation and abandonment would, connected as it was with the Last Supper, play out in a way strikingly similar to this account.
The key that unlocks the mystery contained in this verbal duel is to recognize that Jesus saw in this Canaanite woman a reality that she didn’t even see herself. He saw in her a faith that could withstand any assault; a love that was divine; a hope that could not be shaken. He tested her mettle and she found something within herself that she didn’t know even existed. Joined into the humiliation of Christ, she transcended ordinary humanity and came into a level of life that was God’s. Her three-step journey in faith mirrored Christ’s.
Homily on Isaiah 56:1,6-7; Romans 11:13-15,29-32; Matthew 15:21-28
DISCLAIMER - I am not infallible. The good Father who spoke this homily makes no such claim to infallibility either.