We Can Always Gamble On God’s Mercy

Today’s Gospel gives hope to the heart of any parent, to any of us really. Any creature who is desperately in distress, as this woman was, can gamble on the mercy of God and win. 

This woman walked from the Gentile district of Tyre to meet Jesus in order to submit to him her desperate need. This Canaanite woman had a daughter possessed by a demon, and she was pleading for his help. The depths of the despair of the human heart can be touched most easily in the frightened pleas of a parent begging God for a child’s life. This one mother’s anxiety for her child, as recounted in the Gospel of Mark, stands in stark contrast to the 23 verses that preceded it. In these earlier verses, the Pharisees also had come to Jesus, but their purpose was to gather around him and quibble about how the disciples kept the law. For them, Jesus was not their healer, their Savior. He was someone who had to prove his authority to them, to measure up to their expectations, to fit into their religious understanding. Theirs was a calculated relationship that held Jesus at arm’s length, a dance devoid of love and intimacy.

But this woman from the district of Tyre was not a Jew. She was not a believer. She was a Gentile, a pagan. Her story leaps from the pages of Scripture to assure us that Jesus’ heart is by nature, attuned to his creature’s cry of distress. He led this woman on a gentle journey toward a loving tryst. She searches for him and finds him even in the place where he was trying to escape notice. She risked rejection as she approached this Jewish healer whom she had probably heard stories about. She was willing to fall at his feet to beg him for help for her daughter. This anxious mother didn’t come with a demand or an argument why Jesus should help her. She simply threw herself on his mercy, trusting that a mother’s plea for her child would move this teacher who himself had a mother.

Jesus is moved by our humanity, a humanity that he took up when the Word became flesh. Everyone who makes desperate intercession for another can trust that the heart of Jesus will be moved as it was for this Canaanite mother. 

Even though she presented her request to Jesus with the audacious and visceral faith that seemed almost to twist God’s arm, she remained at his feet in humble homage, in submission. And it was by this confident humility that she won his heart. God wants to be overcome by us. He wants to say, “I can no longer resist you. Be it done as you say.” He desires that every intercessory prayer be a moment of greater intimacy with him. 

Take with you today this mother’s courage. Where do you need a miracle? Where do you or a loved one need saving? Where are you in complete dependence on God with no other recourse? Like her leave behind your fear, take up your heart’s courage, and cast your cares upon the Lord. Do not debate with yourself or doubt, but set out. Bow down before the One who is the center, who is God’s loving tenderness on earth seeking to make us truly and forever happy.

Contact the author

Kathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey.

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