The woman who had faith

The woman who had faith

The Syrophœnician Woman.

(The Gospel History, Section 66)

And Jesus arose from thence, and went away into the borders of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered into a house, and would have no man know it: and he could not be hid. But behold, a Canaanitish woman from those borders, whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him. Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophœnician by race. And she besought him, and cried, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away, for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But she came and worshipped him, and fell down at his feet, saying, Lord, help me! And he answered and said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it unto the dogs. But she answered and said unto him, Yea, Lord: for even the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: for this saying go thy way; be it done unto thee even as thou wilt: the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And she went away unto her house, and found the child laid upon the bed, and the devil gone out.

The woman who had faith

(The Saviour of the World, Vol IV, Book II, Poem XXXV)

We learn not her name or her lineage,—

A mother, a widow or wife,—

One flash of the Spirit reveals her,

Outstanding, as were she in life.

We know her a Syro-Phœnician

Acquaint with the life of the sea,

Familiar with th’ ways of great cities

Where merchants and sailor-men be:

Keen and subtle, she stands out before us,

A Greek with th’ Greek’s ready wit,

Alert for the things which concern her—

If aught her occasion might fit.

Poor mother, a sorrow consumed her;

The sweet little daughter she loved

Was vexed with a spirit uncleanly

That often the little one moved:

A neighbour one day came and told her,—

“That prophet who teacheth the Jews

Hath left them and come to our border:”

The mother’s heart leaped at the news;

For many a story had reached her

Of merciful deeds He had done;

How none sued in vain for His kindness,—

This man—was He God’s very Son?

So she came with her plea for His mercy

(She knew how to name Him aright—

“O Lord, Son of David,” she called Him),

“Have mercy!” she cried in the might

Of a mother’s petition, love-wingéd,

“My daughter is grievously vexed,—

An evil o’erwhelms her—have pity!”

He spake not: the Woman, perplext,

Yet never disheartened, cried louder

To Christ ’mid that group of His friends,—

Though cold and unheeding His aspect,

And no one encouragement lends.

“Nay, send her away for she troubleth,

Will soon raise a turbulent crowd;

The men of the city will chase us

From hence if she cry thus aloud.”

So spake the disciples, regarding

Their Master, their safety, not her:

She heard; did her valiant heart fail her?

The Master turns round ’mid the stir;—

His countenance shone on that woman

Had come to Him full of her grief;

But the word that He spake was distressing—

Gave never a hope of relief:

“Nay, thou art an alien, a Gentile,

To the lost sheep of Israel come I:”

She would not take “No,” but besought Him

With ceaseless, importunate cry:

She fell at His feet and she worshipped,

“Lord help me, for sore is my need!”

But He, “Nay, the children be hungry,

I have Mine own people to feed;

Were it well to cast to the dogs, then,

Their bread while the children go faint?”

Nor scorn nor indifference chilled her;

She did but renew her complaint.

“As dogs then, my Master, regard us,

Child and mother, unworthy Thy care,

But the very dogs under the table

The crumbs are permitted to share!”

Now, lo, all the testing was finished

The Master had brought to that ore,

The virginal faith of the woman,

Ne’er tried in like furnace before.

Regard full of grace fell upon her,

The Lord thought her worthy of praise:

“Great is thy faith, O thou Woman,

In gladness pursue thou thy ways:—

For, see’st thou, that word thou hast spoken

Is balm to the wound of thy Lord:

What if I came hither from Sidon

With purpose thy boon to afford?

What if I had watched thy young daughter,

Afflicted, and seen thy heart bleed?

What if, for thy thoughts had pursued Me,

I came to accomplish thy need?

No gift that a man hath to offer

Is precious as faith in Mine eyes;

Go home then and find thy young daughter—

Restored and in quiet she lies.”

St. Matthew xv. 21-28.
St. Mark vii. 24-30.