The Syrophoenician Woman

Today’s Gospel Matthew 15:21-28 Douay Rheims version:

21 And Jesus went from thence, and retired into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

22 And behold a woman of Canaan who came out of those coasts, crying out, said to him: Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David: my daughter is grieviously troubled by the devil.

23 Who answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying: Send her away, for she crieth after us:

24 And he answering, said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel.

25 But she came and adored him, saying: Lord, help me.

26 Who answering, said: It is not good to take the bread of the children, and to cast it to the dogs.

27 But she said: Yea, Lord; for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.

28 Then Jesus answering, said to her: O woman, great is thy faith: be it done to thee as thou wilt: and her daughter was cured from that hour.

New American Stansard Bible (thank you, Hearthie)

The Syrophoenician Woman

21 Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” 23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting [j]at us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began [k]to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He answered and said, “It is not [l]good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; [m]but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed [n]at once.

I’m trying to understand this: But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began [k]to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He answered and said, “It is not [l]good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; [m]but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

Is Jesus saying to the woman, I should not be taking my time and works and giving them to those who are not children of the house of Israel and referring to her as a dog?  Is she in turn saying, even as a dog, I am taking in the scraps that I can from you, my master?

7 thoughts on “The Syrophoenician Woman

  1. Any… meditation upon food and feasts as presented in the Gospels, or any of scripture, will be in depth in order to gain a clear understanding of what is being presented by God for teaching. Let us take a look and try to limit ourselves, mostly, to the Gospels.

    First is that we must remember that God did chose Israel. Or rather, he chose humanity and only a bare minimum of a few small tribes stayed close enough to God to warrant the mercy of being called his chosen people, as all other men turned away through the sins of their ancestors. To be given even a scrap after such is an act of divine mercy, given as the just reward for humility and faith, two things that God highly praises.

    And thus, the poor soul gains entrance to a feast many of the chosen are turned away at the door. The dogs are more highly prized than the unprepared virgins.

    “For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.”as the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

    And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those that were ready went with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterwards the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied , ‘truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
    – Matthew 25:3-6, 10-13

    So, already we see the unchosen admitted over the chosen whom our Lord knew not. One must consider what the oil is that the maidens had naught of. It very well could be baptism, as an unbaptized will not enter heaven. Or the sacrament of confirmation, with its oils, though such is taught by the church as unnecessary, so we’ll say no to that. My own interpretation is the love of God’s hollowed name.

    “For your love is better than wine,
    Your anointing oils are fragrant,
    Your name is oil poured out;
    Therefore the maidens love you.
    Draw me after you, let us make haste.
    The king has brought me into his chambers.”
    – Song of Solomon 1:3, 4

    And the first part of the Our Father

    Our Father, who art in heaven, hollowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

    From here we can turn to. The feast itself. Christ tells us that not all whom enter the feast will be allowed to stay, but will be turned away due to chosing to cloth themselves in inappropriate clothes for the wedding:

    “Then he said ro his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited are not worthy. Go therefore into the streets and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
    But when the king came back to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
    – Matthew 22:8-14

    The first part of the parable starts very nearly where the other left off. Haven turned away the unprepared who loved not His name, God finds himself desiring the salvation of more souls. Turning to the crowds, he invites the good and the bad into the feast. He does so through his death on the cross, knocking down the gates of hell while leaving his wedding garments, those precious garments he was wrapped and buried in, behind for all men to put on.

    The garments are our virtuous actions, our confirmation within the church, and dying a death most pleasing to God. To put on the wedding garments we must act as Christ did, living virtuous lives, and putting on the blood stained robes of our Lords passion that, after death, we might put on the robes of his glorious resurrection and ravish the heart of Christ, pierced out of love.

    “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride,
    You have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes,
    With one jewel of your necklace.
    How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride!
    How much better is your love than wine,
    And the fragrance of your oils than any spice!
    Your lips distil nectar, my bride;
    Honey and milk are under your tongue;
    The scent of your garments is like the scent of Lebanon.
    – Song of Solomon 4:9-11

    To fail to do let the name of God be distilled by love off our tongues like nectar, or pierce God’s heart by looking towards him and jewels of virtuous deeds around our necks; will find us lacking any wedding garment when he returns in glory, to judge the living and the dead. Therefore let our tongues call out to him

    Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us.

    Finally, we come to the feast commanded to by God to Peter through visions, telling Peter “What God has cleansed, you must not call common.” (Acts 10:15). At such a feast all were welcome who decided to put on wedding garments, and the gentiles who were last gained the ability to become first.

    “And we are witness to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him up and made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to judge the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
    And while Peter was saying this, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.
    – acts 10:39-44

    And thus the beast regains their humanity and chance of salvation, the last being made first through their own actions, and Gods divine providence and mercy.

    “We have a little sister,
    and she has no breasts.
    What shall we do for our sister,
    On the day she was spoken for?
    If she is a wall,
    We will build upon her a battlement of silver;
    But if she is a door,
    We will encase her with boards of cedar.
    I was a wall
    And my breasts were like towers;
    Then I was in his eyes,
    As one who brings peace.
    – Song of Solomon 8:8-10

    Thus the little sister is spoken for at the wedding feast. The chosen souls guide the newly accepted to strengthen them and make them loved according to the strengths God gave them. Admitted by the Holy Spirit, witnessed by Peter, now Paul, the strength of the old ways comes to gather them for the feast:
    “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we turn to the gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,
    “I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the utmost parts of the earth.” ‘
    And when the Gentiles heard this? They were glad and glorified the word of God; and as many as were ordained tl eternal life believed.
    – Acts 13:46-48

    And thus the Gentiles, and all humanity was lead to salvation, boldly pleading to God

    And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

    Which, all in all, is a very long winded way to say that every crumb of the Eucharist is Christ’s body, soul, and divinity. Even a mere crumb is of infinite value, and a dog begging for such crumbs are exactly what each of us are.

    And for such humble pleading and faith, we receive infinite worth, infinite love, and eternal life with the bride, to sing with angels and saints at his feast.


  2. I will mention, briefly, that such interpretations are not the sole meaning one can get from them, possibly not correct at all, and possibly one of multiple correcr interpretations for each passage.

    Yet I find them beautiful, and cherish such jewels as God gave me in my heart while seaching for still more, as my greed for love is ever unsatisfied


  3. Chad, thank you for your help with this. Unfortunately, something has come up here today (nothing bad) and I won’t be able to really devote the time I need to it until tomorrow. Thanks for taking the time to help me out. It is appreciated.


  4. peregrinejohn,

    Thank you. My first reaction (thankfully it was very short) was typical. Why would he call this woman a dog? But taking the time to think about it, it’s quite beautiful the way she humbles herself before him and he, therefore accepts her. I was quite taken with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As a gentile even less closely related to Israel than she was, I’m honored to be allowed far more than crumbs, and continually astounded that this cur was made heir. Moreover, this passage is a beautiful reminder to treat our elder brothers, who were born to the house, with due honor.

    Liked by 1 person

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