By Fr. Andrew Kelly
The community is gathered for Jesus’ word, body and blood. The community is a very comfortable place to be.
An outsider intrudes and interrupts the tranquil scene of Jesus and the disciples as described in Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 15:21-28). The disciples respond: “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” Even Jesus is insultingly hostile: “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”
But the woman has a faith that is persistent, humble and prayerful. Deep from within the foreign woman’s soul came the prayer: “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.”
The prayer was so persistent that it would not put up with Jesus’ resistance: “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
The woman’s faith-filled retort even transformed Jesus: “‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.”
Is the woman’s prayerful faith the prayerful faith of the community? The prayer transformed Jesus. It might do the same for any community that does not like being disturbed by outsiders hungry for Jesus’ “crumbs.”
(Father Andrew Kelly is pastor of St. Mary Parish in Mechanicsville.)