Today we learn about how Jesus' teachings are for everyone and not just for the Israelites. We also learn about how God rewards people with strong faith and persistence.
O God, make our faith in you as strong as that of the Canaanite woman, because we believe in you and know that your word is true.
Source: THE COMPLETE CHILDREN'S LITURGY BOOK (THOMPSON, 1996)
Jesus went to stay near the cities of Tyre and Sidon, where few people knew him. One day a Canaanite woman came to him and cried, "Help me, Jesus! My daughter's mind is disturbed and she is very ill!" Jesus did not asnwer the woman, and she carried on crying aloud and begging him to help.
The disciples were embarrassed by the shouting and asked Jesus to help her, but Jesus said, "I have been sent to the Jewisn people and not the pagans." Then turning to the woman he said, "Surely you would not give the food meant for children to the dog?" The woman threw heself at his feet and answered, "No sir, but even the dogs get the crumbs that their masters drop from the table!" Then Jesus smiled and said, "Your belief is strong, and your daughter is well!" From that moment the woman's daughter was cured.
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NppSY_d6xiE (Credit to Catholic Kids Media)
Ask: Recall a time when a request of yours was rejected. (Perhaps you asked to go to the movies or watch a TV show after your bedtime.) What did it feel like to have your request rejected? What was your response to this rejection? (Accept all reasonable answers.)
Say: In today’s Gospel we hear a very surprising story in which Jesus at first rejects the pleas of a woman who asks him to heal her daughter.
Ask: How many times does Jesus reject the woman’s request? (at least three times) What was Jesus’ first response to the woman’s requests? (He ignores her.) What was Jesus’ second response? (He says that he was sent only to the people of Israel.) What was Jesus’ third response? (He appears to insult her when he implies that only the Israelites are God’s children.) How does the woman respond to each of these rejections? (She continues to persist; she cleverly turns around Jesus’ insult; she remains confident that Jesus can and will help her.)
Say: In this story we can find a lesson about our prayer. The woman in the story is successful in making her request to Jesus because she remains confident that Jesus can and will help her. It is her faith that Jesus rewards by healing her daughter. When we bring our needs to God in prayer, we should do so with confidence and faith, like the Canaanite woman.
Conclude with prayers of petition, asking the group to name the things that they most need from God. Present these prayers with confidence in God’s abundant mercy.