The Faith of a Canaanite Woman – Matthew 15 21 28 Meaning and Commentary

Introductory prayer

I calm down and I feel the presence of God in me. I ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit to open the word of God, I accept it and allow it to fulfill my mission in me, in order to become more and more what I am in Holy Trinity. Then I ask God for this prayer, in my own words, or with those that are here…

The gift of life and salvation is for everyone. This is what God, infinite Grace, is telling us all the time. God does not belong to anyone, God is for everyone – as long as I have an open heart, an empty heart that acknowledges thirst and that cannot offer anything in return. Only faith. Lord, open my heart to you, at all times, for every person.

2. Reading – Listening: The Faith of a Canaanite Woman – Matthew 15 21 28 Meaning and Commentary

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

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28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

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3. Thoughts on the Gospel – The Faith of a Canaanite Woman – Matthew 15 21 28 Meaning and Commentary

The Gospel of Matthew was written for the community of converted Jews. Following Jesus’ example, they continued to live by the tradition of the Jewish people and fulfilled the law of Moses in full. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70, the Pharisees began to reorganize Judaism and, in the name of fidelity to the law of Moses, tried to prevent the spread of Christianity. They began to expel them from the synagogues. This hostility led the Christian Jewish community into a deep crisis. Both the Pharisees and the Christians claimed to be faithful to God’s law. Who was right? Whose side was God on? Matthew writes his gospel precisely to encourage and support a group of Jewish Christians and to show them the way to a new form of righteousness, better than that lived by the Pharisees.

In the case of the Canaanite woman, the new community could see how Jesus took concrete steps to transcend the limitations of a self-contained religion and how he recognized God’s will outside of his traditional religion — Judaism.

The woman belonged to another nation and religion. She asked Jesus to heal her daughter who was possessed by an evil spirit. The pagans had no trouble coming to Jesus. But the Jews (and therefore also Jesus) had trouble coexisting with the pagans because the law forbade them to make contact with a person of another religion or nation.

Throughout the Bible, we can see that God always listens to the cries of the oppressed. But Jesus does not listen to the cry of this woman. And when the disciples also wanted to get rid of her, he explained his silence: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” His silence, therefore, stems from the awareness of his mission and his fidelity to God’s law, his Father.

Jesus ’rejection does not stop this mother’s love but seeks healing where she sensed it by her intuition. She throws herself at his feet and continues her plea. Jesus, who is faithful to the rules of his religion, answers with the parable of how it is not right to take bread from children and give it to dogs. He took a comparison of everyday life. No mother will take bread from the mouths of her children and give it to dogs, which were pagans to the Jews.

The woman does not give up. She agrees with Jesus, but at the same time says that pet dogs eat leftovers that fall off their master’s table. Jesus praised her faith. She got what she asked for. From that moment on, her daughter was healed. He responded in this way because he understood that the Father wanted to grant this woman’s request.

The encounter with the Canaanite woman freed him from confinement in his nation and opened him to all mankind. This pagan woman opened new horizons for him in the realization of the Father’s plan. He realized that the gift of life and salvation is for all who seek life and seek to free themselves from the chains of slavery.

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4. Meditation – thinking

About everything I have read and what has touched me, I am thinking now. I let my thoughts also touch my heart. Think:

  • I observe Jesus in this story. What do I notice about the process of opening the heart?
  • If I listen to the voice of my intuition, the voice within me, what could I ask Jesus for?
  • What helps me to feel at home in a new environment, among new people? Who could feel at home, with such my actions?

5. Personal Prayer

In the next moments of silence, I talk about this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God).

6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God

Now I let silence be in me. I am simply present in God, as He is quietly present in me. Perhaps from this silence, I hear God’s speech, which invites me perhaps in thanksgiving and worship or to open myself and accept him in my path life and work, maybe He gives me the courage to continue searching for…

7. Action

When I walk into a personal relationship with God, he changes me, makes me more loving, and encourages me to the concrete action, which is….. (write down your insights for concrete action).

8. Prayer at the end

Thank you, Lord, of Mercy, for hearing me as I cry out of poverty. Thank you for showing me how important it is to ask in poverty. Thank you for bestowing this grace to everyone. May I be the messenger of your infinite Love and Grace.

9. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection

This is my view on what was happening in me at the time, I spent praying. In my reflection, I can help myself with the following questions:

  • How was I feeling when I started praying?
  • What happened during the prayer?
  • What feelings and thoughts could I detect in myself?
  • How did I feel with the revelations, which I had during my prayer?
  • What did I learn about myself, about God, about his attitude towards me and others and me to him and others?
  • How did I finish my prayer?
  • What did I receive for my everyday life?
  • In the end, I can write the lessons, findings, and insights. I can write also, where I had problems, they may have great value in learning about my relationship and myself with God. They can also help to find a more appropriate way of prayer for me.
  • Then I thank the Holy Trinity. If I pray with my family or in the community, friends, I can share with them what I felt in this prayer. With a prayer for one another, you can support yourself throughout the week.

Lectio Divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home –

Text from the Bible – New International Version (NIV)

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!