In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew we find the account of a miraculous cure of the daughter of a Syro-Phoenician woman of Greek ancestry who was enduring demonic possession by a spirit of impurity.
These days, the newspapers would report the episode as: “Zionist miracle worker interrupts young woman’s quest to find her own sexuality.” That is because those possessed by impurity of all kinds, do not have any idea of the origin of their inclinations. Many of those, think themselves Catholic and gleefully receive the Holy Sacrament having little or no idea that they are holding on to a sinful inclination that is gravely offending God.
We can glean quite a bit from these two short accounts of the same story. Here is Matthew’s:
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. (Matthew 15: 21-28)
Matthew does not mention the ancestry or precise origin of that woman. “Canaanite” suffices, that is “a non-Jewish woman from that region.” The woman calls Jesus by his Messianic name: “Son of David” which is something quite daring even for a Jew living in those parts. Jesus is preaching to Jews living outside the borders of ancient Israel in what we know now as Lebanon. To call Jesus by the title of a Jewish king was at best politically imprudent. But the woman does not care for improprieties. May be she has heard about the blind man of Jericho who called Jesus by that title and got his attention. May be others were calling Jesus that way and she was merely imitating them. She goes right into the matter:
“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
But Jesus remains aloof. No answer. She resorts to screaming and crying, insisting to be heard. The disciples are obviously annoyed and ask Jesus to do something but they only get a short answer. She is not a Jew. Jesus has limited time and he cannot help the entire world. He is already going out of his way by visiting Jews living that far off the border.
The woman doubles down and calls him Lord, she makes a real pest of herself. She won’t let go of the group passing by. Jesus gets downright rude and calls her and all the surrounding natives “dogs” to no avail. She humiliates herself even more, she accepts the dishonorable title and responds:
“Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
She has not given an inch of her honoring Jesus. Her demands for mercy are undiminished. Jesus is moved by her faith and her little daughter is cured. She believes, leaving right away knowing by faith that her daughter is out of danger.
Mark’s account has some additional details. It is very likely that Mark is reporting the testimony of Peter, who was next to Jesus at the time.
In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. (Mark 7:25-30)
Through Mark we know that the young girl is possessed by a spirit of impurity. No specific impurity is mention. The region was still under Greek cultural influence, male and female homosexuality, promiscuous sexuality, and other practices were a prominent part of that culture imposed a few generations past by Alexander the Great and his armies. As he conquered the region on his way to Persia, Alexander promoted the Greek lifestyle and culture as he went by. Iskander Bikonur (tentative translation, Alexander the Two-Horned Male Goat) as the locals called him, was a bisexual man himself known by his “god-like” sexual prowess.
One can imagine a number of illnesses afflicting the poor young woman, none of them acceptable to her suffering mother. From Jesus’ answer we can infer her inclination. Jesus calls her “dog,” [κύνες, kines] a very insulting word also used to identify those who are inclined to unnatural sexual practices. St. John uses the same word in his Apocalypse:
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs [κύνες, kines], those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral [πόρνοι, pornoi] , the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Revelation 22:14-15
See, Jesus is outside the realm of Judea, “seeking the lost sheep of Israel” who have chosen to live among the people of Greek origin in that region. While he is doing that, a local woman cries to him for help in saving her “little daughter” a young woman old enough to involve herself in unclean sexuality. Mothers always see their children as babies, even when they turn bad. Our Lord knows that the mother asking him for help is part of the culture. She may even tacitly approve of the lifestyles of the general population by living there, something that the immigrant Jews are also doing. Jesus decides to teach everyone a lesson. He does not hide his disgust and he calls things by their name but he does it to exact a measure of faith from the woman. In this case, the woman shows her faith by humiliating herself. “Call me a dog,” she says, “call my whole country a den of dogs, I admit we are nothing but even people like us know you are the Lord and have the power to save my baby from the devil [πόρνοι, pornoi].”
That powerful witness is what Jesus was waiting for. Moved by the woman’s faith, he does what she wants immediately. The young daughter is clean and safe from further demonic influence.
A prophetic model
There is a prophetic model hidden in this story. One day, Christ will liberate the world of unclean sexual practices [πόρνοι, pornoi] by removing the sin of the world and those spiritual beings currently inspiring the debauchery we see all around us. What is impossible for a human being, it is possible for God. Many are now approaching Jesus in faith to be cleansed from their unnatural passions. If you are reading this and are one of those oppressed by that kind of addiction, call on Jesus. A video (Desire of the Everlasting Hills) is posted at the end of this article showing the story three persons who found their way to Christ.
A personal story, a request
Not long ago I had a strange but quite moving experience. Part of it is told in one of the previous posts (Dreams) please follow this link to Dream#7 Salvation of a Soul. There I tell the story of Marie-Claude, a young lady I knew briefly a few years ago. Marie-Claude grew up in a Catholic family, she attends Mass and participates in various evangelizing activities. I was told she is a practicing lesbian. Her parents, departed some years ago, came to me in a dream and asked me to pray and do sacrifices to save her soul. I have been assured of her soon to happen conversion in the same manner. This rather unique experience made me think of the many women in the Bible who have been called to a holy vocation in spite of a naughty past. One of them is Rahab of Jericho: “Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab.” (Matthew 1:5) Matthew mentions her in his genealogy of Jesus. Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho when Israel entered into the promised land. She was saved and became the great-grandmother of King David, hence one of the ancestors of Christ.
I am asking my readers to join me in prayer for the conversion of Marie-Claude (not her real name but God knows who she is) praying for her from now through the upcoming Lent Season. I promise to let you know when the happy event of her conversion is known to me. Much praying and fasting is needed. Please join me in this effort ad maiorem Dei gloriam, for the greater glory of God.
In the next post we will analyze what is being done to help people like Marie-Claude and I will include some of my personal experiences gathered along in 20 years of being Catholic. The scene is not pretty but we must act. Sins of omission resulting in a loss of a soul are serious, deadly sins. We must get involved even if the entire hierarchy and priesthood decide to allow these grievous offenses to continue unabated.
“… I am near, says the Lord, to restore all things not only to the full but with abundance and above measure.” (The Imitation of Christ) All the beauty and marvel of creation began in chaos and disorder. Saint Paul was a hateful self righteous zealot bent on murdering Christians; see what God made of him. Where sin abounded, grace abounded exceedingly.
In the feast of St. Timothy, Bishop and Martyr
Desire of the Everlasting Hills (English with Spanish subtitles)