Christian Living Stories: The Syro-Phoenician Mother

Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30

I was beyond desperate. My precious little girl was terrified and completely out of her mind. I tried everything. But nothing helped.

I had heard of the great Israelite healer, Jesus, and his miracles and how some were healed just by touching him. The Jews abhorred our people; so when word spread that Jesus had come to Phoenicia, I found it hard to believe he was really here. I had to find him. I searched everywhere.

Finally I found him. My heart filled with hope as I ran into the courtyard of the house where he was staying. Then I saw him. “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!” I cried and begged him to heal my baby girl. At first he didn’t answer me.

I turned to his disciples, pleading with them to help me get through to Jesus. They quickly became annoyed with me and strongly urged Jesus to send me away. They seemed to read into his silence that he must have been irritated by me as well.

Finally Jesus spoke. So relieved that he had at least responded, I ran to him and fell at his feet in worship and prayed, “Lord, help me!”

He explained to me he was sent only to Israel and that I should realize it’s not right to take the children’s bread and give it to their little dogs. The children should be allowed to eat all they want first.

And I knew that. I knew he had been working miracles only in Jewish regions. I knew we lived in a spiritually dark and pagan corner of the world. But he was there, standing right in front of me. So, still kneeling before him, I said: “Yes, Lord, I know. But even the puppies eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.”

As I gazed up at him looking for even the slightest positive sign, Jesus smiled, obviously moved by my response. He told me I had great faith and my heart’s desire had been granted! My daughter was healed! Overcome with relief, I thanked him over and over. Then I ran all the way home and found my little one sleeping peacefully. No more would my sweet little child’s face be contorted with fear and anguish. I curled up beside her and wept tears of joy.

Jesus had crossed the border into our land to get away from tiresome arguments with the Pharisees. He didn’t want anyone to know where he was. Even though in my desperation I had created a huge disturbance, divine pity crossed physical and racial boundaries that day as he reached out to me, an outsider. I received bread, not crumbs, from the master’s table.

Copyright 2006

Author: Joyce Catherwood


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