This Sunday’s Gospel reading is not a story about a woman’s daughter who is possessed. It is about the woman herself. The mother says to Jesus, “Have pity on me.” This story is about a mother who has experienced all the ramifications of caring for a child who is ill, as well as being isolated in her community because of the nature of her daughter’s illness. The daughter needs help, but the mother, by her own admission, needs help, too.
In Ruthellen Josselson’s book, The Space Between Us, she uses a quote that says “all real living is meeting.” Josselson goes on to say that the essence of meeting is authentic participation in another’s life. The author calls this authentic participation mutuality. She describes mutuality as simply being with others, to swap stories and experience a communion of selves that has no goal. Mutuality exists, she says, on a continuum from simple companionship to an intermingling of souls. In mutuality we feel better about ourselves; we become more able to act; we are more likely to reach out to others. When Benedict said in the Rule “never give a hollow greeting of peace,” he may have had this concept in mind.
In our Gospel reading, Jesus and the Canaanite woman spend a brief moment together. They each move willingly beyond boundaries of gender, culture and religion to experience a moment of being with each other that is only partially reflected in their verbal exchange. We ourselves are called to mutuality, to be with a friend, to swap stories with the elderly, to experience communion with God.”
Carol Gilligan, a feminist scholar, says that faith is found relationally, not in isolation. The Canaanite woman found the faith that was within her when she met Jesus and spent a brief moment with him. In their dialogue together, the woman’s faith is expressed with such power and conviction that Jesus heals her daughter at that very moment.