Matthew 15:26-27. Jesus said, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

One of the most vexing stories in the New Testament—where Jesus appears cold and even rude—is among the most compelling accounts of faith in biblical history.

The woman is an outsider, a Canaanite. Both the disciples and Jesus initially shun her. Yet she does not give up. “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David!” she cries. “My daughter is tormented by a demon” (v. 22).

Today we would understand her to be saying that the girl was suffering from mental illness. Perhaps she was depressed, suicidal. Or bipolar. Or paranoid schizophrenic. Or combinations of those things.

At first Jesus turns her away. Then, moved by her great faith, humility, and on-the-spot thinking, he heals her daughter from afar.

This is not just her story. Many scholars believe that this woman was the catalyst in helping Jesus’ ministry to move beyond the Jews, embracing all who looked to him for healing and redemption.

Thanks be to God for a mother’s love. Thanks be to God for a Son who answers the prayers of all the faithful.