How great your faith!
Readings: 1st: Jer 31:1-7; Ps (Jer 31:10. 11-12 ab. 13); Gos: Mt 15:21-28
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today, the Tuesday of the eighteenth week of ordinary time, Matthew presents an interesting and emotional encounter between Christ and a Canaanite woman.
First, Christ’s journey to the pagan territory of Tyre and Sidon leaves much to be desired. Earlier, he instructed his disciples: “Do not go to gentile regions. Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt 10:5-8).
This is equally collaborated by his response to his disciples: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” So, why was he there?
Today’s episode illustrates the power of faith demonstrated through persistent intercession. Most important, it demonstrates the universality of God’s mercy and love for all who come to him with faith.
Perhaps, Christ’s hesitation to attend to the woman was to test her faith. At times what God requires is: “a faith as small as the mustard seed” (Mt 17: 20). This woman manifested it through her perseverance.
However, first, she had to endured this derogatory name “the Canaanite dog.” She passed the “acid test.” So, instead of feel offended, she persisted on her plea for mercy on behalf of her sick daughter.
She never took the insult personal. Rather, she continued interceding for the life of her daughter. For this, Jesus commended her faith: “Woman, you have a great faith. Let it be done for you as you wish.” Of course, she received her miracle immediately.
Today’s gospel has much lessons for us. Though, God may test us in strange ways, he never turns away from his promise to help those who believe and trust in him. He never ignores true faith.
This type of faith is demonstrated through perseverance in prayer and praise, and Christ saw it in this Canaanite woman.
My dear friends, like this woman, in a certain way, we are all in need of God’s mercy and help right now. Christ is close to us. We must not let him go without helping us. Grab his garment, kneel and cry before him, if you like!
Do you feel humiliated because of lack of attention? Perhaps, it seems that God is not answering, or has rejected your prayers! Remember the “Canaanite dog.” Shout, and shut your ears to all insults until he hears you.
Say to him now: “I will never let you go unless you bless,” and show me your mercy (Gen 32:22). When the burden has been lifted, joyfully sing: “Let all the peoples praise you, Lord; let all the peoples praise you…because your faithfulness, love, and mercy endures forever” (Ps 66:4; 100:5).
Peace be with you.