The Healing of the Syrophoenician Woman

Father Girardey discusses a sixth Gospel narrative, The Healing of the Syrophoenician Woman (Matt 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30): “Jesus retired into the coast of Tyre and Sidon, and entering into a house, He would that no man should know it, and He could not be hid. For a woman, as soon as she heard of Him, whose daughter had an unclean spirit, came in and fell down at His feet. For the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she besought Him that He would cast forth the devil out of her daughter, saying: Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously troubled by a devil. But Jesus answered her not a word. And His disciples came and besought Him, saying: Send her away, for she crieth after us. And He, answering, said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel. But she came and adored Him, saying: Lord, help me. But Jesus said: Suffer first the children to be filled, for it is not good to take the bread of the children and to cast it to the dogs. But she said: Yea, Lord; for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters. Then Jesus, answering, said to her: O woman, great is thy faith; be it done to thee as thou wilt, for this saying (of thine); go thy way, the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come into her house, she found the girl lying upon the bed, and that the devil was gone out.”

Father Girardey comments: “Our Lord Jesus Christ came on earth to redeem mankind, with the mission from His heavenly Father to preach the Gospel to the Jews, and to prepare His apostles to found His Church and preach the Gospel to all nations. That is why He did not Himself undertake to preach and perform miracles among the Gentiles. . . . Hence, when He went to the coast of Tyre and Sidon, He wished to remain unknown.”

“Admirable, indeed, is the conduct of the woman of Canaan! Like the centurion, she is a model of faith and humility in prayer. First, she prostrates herself, and beseeches Jesus to have mercy on her. Jesus, ever so good, so kind to the meek and humble, seems to ignore her presence, for He pays no attention to her. But she persists, for she wishes to be heard, to have Him show her mercy, by curing her daughter. . . . Jesus objects that He is not sent to do anything for the Gentiles. She, however, again prostrates herself and adores Him, imploring His help. Then Jesus deeply humbles her by a comparison which would have completely discouraged and even angered anyone else. But instead of this she with wonderful faith, confidence and humility, draws therefrom the conclusion that Jesus must not refuse her the crumbs falling from the table of the chosen Jewish nation. . . . He openly admires her humble faith and at once grants her request. Indeed, we may now say, ‘God giveth grace to the humble’ (1 Pet 5:5). Let us, therefore, always humble ourselves and persevere in prayer.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

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