Mothers’ Union Devotion -Tenth Sunday after Trinity 16th August 2020

The Syrophoenician Woman by Mariam Williams


And I remember the first slap that followed the slur, how soft

were the fingertips, so slick with oil and sweat the burning mark

seemed to reassure both ‘Know your place’ and ‘This, too, shall pass.’


And I remember my daughter’s night thrashing in morning

for a fortnight now, rooster’s call never signalling mercy.

How demons use her eight-year-old hands to pluck

the hair from her head in clumps, how she feeds the possessed

shredded curls to rats.


He who is without sin cannot call me a dog

and mean it, so Master, use me for your lesson. Slay

me with the hate of your people. I will play the role,

stay bowed at your feet, breathing their unearthly dust

as I say, ‘But even the dogs eat the crumbs

that fall from their master’s table.’


And I remember my daughter’s kicking in my womb,

first suckle like new lover’s tongue, first smile

my salvation.

And my faith is great.


I thought this challenging poem about the subject of today’s gospel reading from Matthew 15. 21-28, really captures just what a mother is prepared to do for her child.  Here is a woman whose daughter is sick, so she comes to Jesus because she knows that he can help her. And she is not going to take no for an answer. She does not care if she embarrasses herself with her loud attention-grabbing shouting. She does not care if she is called highly offensive and insulting names. She does not care if she has to humble herself completely with her face in the dust. All she cares about is finding a cure for the child she has loved, even before birth.

Sitting watching at the bedside of a loved one who is ill is so hard. You wish you could take away their pain, their confusion, their distress. Then the opportunity presents itself when you learn about the man who has the power to relieve suffering. Of course, you will try to get him to do the same for your loved one. We may not be able to come across this man in the same face to face way as the Canaanite woman, but we can always approach Jesus through prayer. What this mother’s example shows us is that in order to receive Jesus’ help we do not have to put on our best behaviour and become someone we are not. We can be honest with Jesus, tell him what we truly feel – the injustice, the despair, the loneliness, the hurt, the frustration. Nothing will shock Him.

It is in this raw and truly open prayer, that we show our faith and trust in the power of Jesus to heal. Sometimes that healing is to bring peace, calm and rest to our distressed souls so that we can continue our tender walk with those we love beyond measure.

All my love and prayers,

Revd Sandra