August 20, 2023: Woman, Great is Your Faith

hand-holding over bible

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Woman, Great Is Your Faith

One cannot help but wonder about this woman’s story, because she very well may be the reason the Good News of Jesus was eventually shared far and wide. The Gospel writer thought her name was unnecessary to include, rather labeling her only as a Canaanite, a Gentile, meaning her otherness has her standing out in the crowd, even before she loudly shouts for Jesus. Up to this point in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus has clearly stated his rather low opinions of the Gentiles and how his ministry is only to the house of Israel (Matthew 5:47; 6:7–8; 10:5–6). And yet, all of this seems to change after a frantic mother’s faith catches the Savior of the world off guard.

In the hustle and bustle of what one can imagine is a smelly, dirty, noisy, and overcrowded street, this woman calls out to Jesus, only for her calls to go unanswered. She is undeterred by the annoyed disciples and Jesus’ initial dismissal. Instead, she places herself on her knees before Jesus, making it impossible to be ignored as she cries, “Lord, help me.” She has no reason to believe Jesus is the promised Messiah. Her gods likely do not include the God of Israel, and yet she calls Jesus “Son of David” and “Lord.” Her radical display of faith not only brings about her daughter’s healing, but also seems to alter Jesus’ understanding of just who is included in the family of God.

By the end of Matthew’s Gospel, we see Jesus’ tune about the Gentiles has changed as he gives his commissioning remarks: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations.” Woman, great is your faith indeed, because it seems you may have changed the course of history as we know it.


Mikayla Sauerbrey, Moravian Theological Seminary
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania