Let’s take a closer look at the faithful posture of this foreign woman. The text says that she “came out” of the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, suggesting that she has journeyed to find Jesus. Mark’s Gospel explicitly clarifies that her daughter remained at home. If you can picture the scene: she is alone amidst a gaggle of foreign men. Probably she is dusty and bedraggled from travel, a Gentile dog crying out for aid from a man she identifies in explicitly Jewish terms: “O Lord, thou Son of David!” No wonder the disciples find her a bit pathetic.
Yet her vulnerability does not stop her for a moment, driven as she is by love for her daughter and drawn by faith to Jesus. She is clearly a desperate woman. Pathetic and desperate: not the sorts of adjectives we would be inclined to apply to ourselves. To the contrary, we are competent. Educated. Refined in our judgment, discriminating in our tastes. All of this is good. None of it is bad—unless it prevents us from seeing that, like the Canaanite woman, we too desperately need Jesus. “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23b, NRSV). If our wealth, our stability, and our competence prevent us from seeing our need for Jesus—then in that case it is bad. It is damnably bad. If self-satisfaction and complacency are your illness, let this Lent be your medicine.Read the whole sermon here.