Jesus lives life very attentively. It’s there that he discovers God’s will. He looks deeply at creation and grasps the Father’s mystery, which invites him to care tenderly for the littlest ones. He opens his heart to people’s suffering and listens to God’s voice, which calls him to relieve their pain.
The Gospels have preserved for us the memory of a meeting that Jesus had with a pagan woman in the region of Tyre and Sidon. The story is surprising and describes for us how Jesus learned the concrete path for being faithful to God.
A woman who is alone and desperate comes out to meet him. She only knows how to do one thing: shout and beg compassion. Her daughter isn’t only sick and upset, but she is possessed by a «very bad demon». Their home is a hell. From her broken heart springs forth a plea: «Lord, help me».
Jesus answers her with an unexpected coldness. He has a very concrete and defined calling: he has a duty for «the lost sheep of Israel». It’s not his mission to delve into the pagan world: «It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to little dogs».
The phrase is harsh, but the woman isn’t offended. She’s sure that what she is asking is good and, taking up Jesus’ metaphor, she tells him these admirable words: «Ah yes, Lord, but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from their masters’ table».
Jesus quickly understands all this from a new perspective. This woman is right: what she wants coincides with God’s will, who doesn’t want to see anyone suffer. Moved within and in admiration he tells her: «Woman, you have great faith. Let your desire be granted».
Jesus who seemed so secure in his own mission, allows himself to be taught and corrected by this pagan woman. Suffering knows no frontiers. It’s true that his mission is in Israel, but God’s compassion has to reach any person who is suffering.
When we find ourselves with someone who’s suffering, God’s will bursts forth there in full clarity. God wants to relieve their suffering. That’s number one. Anything else comes later. That was the path Jesus followed to be faithful to the Father.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf