Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician woman,
Engraving by Pietro del Pò (1616-1692),
after a painting by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609),
Mid 17th century,
Engraving on paper
© Welcome Collection
The astuteness of the Syro-Phoenician woman
Jesus left Gennesaret and set out for the territory of Tyre. There he went into a house and did not want anyone to know he was there, but he could not pass unrecognised. A woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him straightaway and came and fell at his feet. Now the woman was a pagan, by birth a Syrophoenician, and she begged him to cast the devil out of her daughter. And he said to her, ‘The children should be fed first, because it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.’ But she spoke up: ‘Ah yes, sir,’ she replied ‘but the house-dogs under the table can eat the children’s scraps.’ And he said to her, ‘For saying this, you may go home happy: the devil has gone out of your daughter.’ So she went off to her home and found the child lying on the bed and the devil gone.
Reflection on the engraving
In our Gospel reading today we read how a woman of non-Jewish background can teach us something about praying: persistence! In her spontaneous interaction with Jesus, she takes the attitude of continuing to ask Christ, even though at first she didn’t get the response she wanted. The depth of the woman’s faith, like a trusting child, is an example to us. She has not physically brought her daughter to Jesus, but in her eyes the prospect of long-distance healing presents no difficulties. Christ can do anything and everything from anywhere!
Our etching, by Pietro del Po after Annibale Carracci, depicts the Syrophoenician woman kneeling in front of Jesus and pointing towards the dog who is trying to find food. The lady is in an act of supplication, looking desperate and placing all her trust in Jesus. Saint Peter looks upon the scene at a distance raising an eyebrow, suggesting that the woman’s persistence was probably very intense, and might even have annoyed him. Jesus lifts his cloak gently to fully reveal his left hand which is empowering the distant healing and expresses compassion for the Syrophoenician woman.
The lady was wrestling with Jesus, verbally. In our faith, too, there is at times an element of wrestling with Jesus. We may not accept certain situations and get quite frustrated and vocal towards Jesus. But even then, he is there listening to us… always ready to help. The reading today calls us to be persistent in our faith, as the Syrophoenician woman was, and to keep asking for help.
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I love the conversation between Jesus and the woman. So Middle Eastern, very metaphorical, yet the point comes across so vividly. It’s interesting that the Centurion, who was also a pagan, believed that Jesus could heal from a distance.
Me ha gustado mucho el cuadro y el comentario…gracias Patrick
Spaceforgrace, rezo por ti…que el Señor os libre de las injusticias y os llene de paz…
A mí, me da mucho resultado, ir ante el Sagrario, y desahogarme, al mismo tiempo, junto a la imagen de la Virgen, que está pegadita a El. Hablo, hablo, y hablo, hasta que me quedo sin palabras, y luego hago silencio. Cuando salgo de allí, estoy llena de paz y de amor, aunque los problemas sigan estando. Rezaré por ti y tu hijito precioso. Dios sabe más y los ama!
I think we can say anything to Our Lord Jesus. He knows us through and through, and He still listens.
I often wonder what these unclean spirits that infest people are that we hear about in the Gospels. Troubled minds? Psychiatric problems?
My mind today is quite untroubled for which I thank God. Some mornings it is not so….:) 🙂
keep faith! we pray for you!
Thank you so much
Spaceforgrace, I will pray for you and your son. May God bless you today.
I have no where to turn except to Him. I am certainly learning patience but it is so tough on my son.
I hope it is a comfort that the Lord is with you and your son always. I’ll continue to pray for you.
I still don’t understand why my prayers are not being answered, and why the obstacles seem to get higher. The injustice done to me and my son has been going on for two years. I struggle every day to understand why? Please pray for us.
Pray for those who hurt you and ask God to bless them, not change them or punish them. Love your enemies…..
Yes, I pray for her every single day but in two years there has been no movement. I know she is loved by God as much as he loves me, but that is hard to understand. Yet, I do feel that I am being taught a great lesson in patience and think of all those falsely imprisoned for years. Sometimes there is no justice in this world.
Am so sorry to hear. Yes, I will keep you in my prayers today.
I will keep you in my prayers throughout the day especially when doing my Divine Office.
This means so much to me Patrick- I rarely ask others to pray for me but I really believe in the power of it. Thank you so much.
Tellus more about the injustice; if you want to…..
I can’t say too much, except it involves a very small and vulnerable child. Sometimes we have to fight with all our strength, and when that runs out God sends us the strength, even if He doesn’t send the solution. I am by nature a problem solver but I can’t sort this one out. It is heartbreaking.
I will include you and your son in my Rosary intentions. May you and your son be comforted by the intercession of our Blessed Mother.
Thank you so much Andy.