18th Week in Ord. Time, Wednesday – 5th August 2020 — Gospel: Mt 15,21-28
Recognition of authority and power
Jesus has entered into Tyre and Sidon where the Canaanite woman instantly greets him with her request. Although earlier references about Tyre and Sidon (11,20-24) does not say that he performed any signs there, yet somehow she recognizes Jesus, not only as a roaming healer but as a rightful king. The woman greets Jesus as the “Son of David”. Her recognition needs to be highlighted against Jesus’ disciples, who were slow in recognizing Jesus. In Matthew 14, when Jesus was walking on the sea, the disciples at first recognized Him as a ghost and finally recognized Him as the Son of God. This woman with all that she heard about Jesus hails Him as the Son of David in her first encounter. She has more insight into Jesus’ identity than his disciples. Therefore she begs his mercy, and entreats his power over a demon that has severely possessed her daughter. Even though Jesus neglects her request twice (15,23-24), yet she does something that is significant: she kneels before him. For the evangelist Matthew this action befits a king. The magi, who are also Gentiles, are the first to offer worship to Jesus in this way (Mt 2,2.8.11). The unrepentant slave bows before the king in the parable of unforgiving servant (Mt 18,26). Kneeling is also recognition of power. Those who kneel before Jesus were healed of their diseases. A leper kneels before Jesus and asks to be made clean (Mt 8,2). A ruler kneels and asks healing for his daughter (Mt 9,18). This unnamed woman, with her past experience, has recognized Jesus not only as one who has authority to sit on the throne of David, but to exercise power over evil.