He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Jesus should have left the house. There is no way that he, as a good and responsible Jewish leader, should share the space with a gentile woman. He was trying to escape notice, to not attract attention and this person barged in on him and intruded into his space. There was no fault for him in that. Yet! The owner of the house should have removed her or Jesus should have left.
There is a brooding tension in this story. And desperation. This is a critical moment. Jesus has just talked about what is considered to be clean and pure before God. That what matters for God is what lies within the human heart and not in appearances. That we cannot be made impure by what we eat or do. Now this is put to the test. And the surprising thing is that woman challenges Jesus to be compassionate. To go beyond his lawful obligations. To do more than just the right thing!
What does that mean?