The Gospel of Matthew 15:21-28
Woman, you have great faith.
Jesus left Gennesaret and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. Then out came a Canaanite woman from that district and started shouting, ‘Sir, Son of David, take pity on me. My daughter is tormented by a devil.’ But he answered her not a word. And his disciples went and pleaded with him. ‘Give her what she wants,’ they said ‘because she is shouting after us.’ He said in reply, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ But the woman had come up and was kneeling at his feet. ‘Lord,’ she said ‘help me.’ He replied, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.’ She retorted, ‘Ah yes, sir; but even house-dogs can eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, you have great faith. Let your wish be granted.’ And from that moment her daughter was well again.
I believe Jesus was attuned to the situation. Jesus and this Canaanite woman do a remarkable job at dismantling sexism. The proof is that this story made it into the Gospels. Jesus sets the scene in a way by waiting for her voice to be loud enough to disturb the disciples and onlookers. They then engage in a robust dialogue. She was not only a woman, but a foreigner who did not have the privilege to be speaking to the Jews. Together their dialogue results in this woman being given a voice and the genuine authority of a teacher who challenges. Her faith and courageous leadership are confirmed by the working of a healing miracle by Jesus. Through dialogue they dismantled systems that discriminate.
Today Mary Ward women, as throughout the last four centuries, have continued to shed light on discriminatory systems that are detrimental to life.
“Women in time will come to do much!” Mary Ward.