Jesus often resists to grant the several prayers petitioned to Him. He does not give away, just like that for free. He often refuses. He may humiliate. He may intimidate. He may discriminate. He often tests. He may grant you your dark hour. In Matthew 15:21-28 we read the three rounds of denials before a miracle is delivered to the daughter of the Canaanite woman, pursuant to the intercessory trial of her biological mother – the Canaanite woman. The dark hour of the Canaanite woman with Jesus.
Jesus is not always easy to go with, if one takes on Him. He tests faith, before he delivers the Glory of God. In my world as a Cost Accountant, we implement performance management systems to reward performance in organisations. I remember what my counsellor Bro Paulose, during my retreat at Christu Jyothi in 1999. He said, “Kingdom of God, is for the determined. You need the strength and tactic of an unreserved-passenger getting into an overcrowded Kerala State Transport bus”.
You have to use the strength of your determination, to overcome the hurdles of tests and faith to qualify for an explicit miracle from Jesus. With His Grace, strategy of competing in the test of faith will produce profitable results. Jesus has responded with silence, taken more time, allowing some deliberate delays and presented some unusual excuses before he granted miracles for several of the prayers. We try to discern, a sample of the process practiced by Jesus in delivering a miracle, granting a prayer, in enacting the drama of salvation to the daughter of the Canaanite woman.
Jesus denies to cure, The First time
The Canaanite mother is praying to Jesus to save her demon-possessed daughter. First, I observe the presence of a relationship between the intercessor and the affected – a mother and daughter relationship. She then prays to Jesus as an intercessor on behalf of her daughter. And Matthew 15: 23 records, Jesus did not answer a word in response to her prayer.
By not answering, Jesus denied her the first time. Or by silence he discounted the prayer value down to zero. Often silence is His communication style, before a miracle. A prayer being un-answered is thus the labour pain preceding the birth of a miracle. I see this silence when the sisters Martha and Mary prayed for the healing of their dying brother Lazarus.
In several places Jesus is a “silent God”, a “blind God”, a “deaf God” , a “sleeping God” until we burn our faith offering in good volumes, until we breath out enough faith, until we build the bridge of faith to an adequate length, until we climb high enough on the graph of faith, establishing a live Holy Spirit connection between our prayer and His miracle. Let us examine how the Canaanite mother laboured her pain to give birth to a miracle for her demon-possessed daughter.
Jesus refuses to cure, The Second time
Since the mother was humble enough, she did not feel hurt by the way Jesus ignored her prayer. Fr Varghese said, “It is our pride, which prevents us from pursuing prayer”. Once we are intimidated by the silence of Jesus, by the first rejection by Jesus, our pride is hurt, we are frustrated and quick to abandon. Our faith is burnt out by the dry heat of silence, by the storm of a ridicule, by the non-conforming behaviour of a church member.
She, did not weigh her shame against her prayer. She prayed again and again weighing her faith in Jesus with the love she had for her daughter. She was humble, she was determined, so she prayed again ignoring the silent intimidation of Jesus. Her determination was overwhelming the silence of a powerful and silent God. As Jesus reduced the decibel of his response to zero, she increased the decibel of her faith proportionately. As Jesus went silent, she went louder. As Jesus intimidated, she overcame her shame with her determination, her humility, her faith.
Here I discern that the disciples including apostles intercede for her cause, so that they are saved the shame of a crying mother pestering Jesus. They also intercede with their style of prayer with Jesus to get rid of the “discomfort” of a praying, crying petitioner. The apostles, at that hour, display a low valuation for the Charisma of Jesus to perform a miracle. They ask Jesus to just give away a miracle , a cure, to save them from the shame of a crying, nagging Canaanite mother. The Charism of the Holy Spirit are not given away to keep beggars away from us. Charism of the Holy Spirit to perform miracles is not a piece of bone to saves us from the annoying bark of a street dog. Jesus shows no mercy and is firm and raises his Second denial.
This denial is in the form of a technical, legal, legitimate objection. He does not have adequate powers, adequate authority, and adequate relationship with the petitioner. Jesus disowned the crying mother as a non-Israelite. He discriminated her. He defined his domain as “exclusive to the lost sheep of Israel.” And she was outside his focus. She does not matter to his mission or mandate. She is not in the Will of His Father. She is an outcast, she is not a child of God, she is just another human being descended from the several sins after Adam and Eve, but not a child of Abraham. She is a dog. She cannot compete for his attention. She is disqualified to enter the race of faith.
Thus Jesus raised the technical and legal excuse to restrict his mission to Israelites. He was unwilling to extend his value to the non-Israelites. Here Jesus is declaring loud at that hour, that it is illegal to the mandate given by His Father to deliver the Glory of God to an out-cast. He loudly discriminates the crying mother. The apostles showed more mercy than Jesus. They were more inclusive than Jesus. They were more secular and modern than their Master. Or may be they did not understand the exchange value the power required for a miracle, or valued them so less, relatively; so that it can be given away, for the first and second asking, to save their ears from the nagging cry of a Canaanite woman.
Jesus refuses to heal, The Third time
In spite of the Jesus ignoring her, the praying mother knocked at the ears and eyes of Jesus, into the mouth of Jesus. She prayed shamelessly, and the Word of God broke its silence and blocked her flow of prayer with an insulting dam, she was downgraded to a dog, she was discriminated, and the language was as abusive and insulting then as it could be today. Do you re-call this rude, aggressive Jesus, but here he is, surrounded by the caucus of his disciples, taunting the poor, mother.
I had since shared this part of Jesus, to a friend of mine. And I asked him, what will you do, if you present your son’s need for the medical miracle, and the anointed Priest denies a counsel to you saying, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs. See you no more”. He loves his son, who needs a medical miracle. But his answer was I will be very angry and throw away my prayers at night vigil and go my way, will not attend the service by that priest any more, I may even diminish or wipe out my faith. And this is a Son of St Thomas, son of Abraham attending a Syro Malabar service in Perth.
There are a few whose feelings got hurt, when they were denied by the Parish Priest, a counsellor, a prayer leader and for that reason, refuses to enter church and prayer again and some have even re-valued their faith to a non-performing asset, pursuing for a foreclosure. The Canaanite woman is the role model for all who are insulted by church and its leaders.
Jesus is not the God of the Proud. Jesus is the God of the abused, the discriminated, the denied, the ignored, the spat, the God of dogs and bitches. On his way to his Cross, he was abused, discriminated, denied, ignored, spat and was treated lesser than a stray dog. He was a worm.
The Break-even Point of Miracle – From labour to birth
A prayer being un-answered is thus the labour pain preceding the birth of a miracle. In my profession, as a Cost Accountant, we use the term break-even point, where the income equals the costs of earning the same income. The costs are classified as fixed and variable in relationship to the business of earning income.
Read The Poem: I believe in miracles
When we enter into the domain of a miracle, we should have a starting firm faith (similar to fixed costs). Then the production of miracle, is the variable component of faith, in proportion to the specific challenges on faith posted by Jesus. Once we overwhelm the Lord, with our variable and proportionate volume of faith, in competitive measure, we win, Jesus wins. Faith triumphs, even over a live and active Word of God.
– – – written by Johnson Edakalathur