August 5, 2015

The Gospel Today

Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major

Matthew 15:21-28

At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But he did not say a word in answer to her.
His disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Reflection (Sem. Ivan Joseph F. Feniquito)

8.5

Tyre and Sidon lay outside Jewish territory. Those places were part of Phoenician cities on the Mediterranean coast, in present-day Lebanon. In the time of Jesus, they were outside the territory of Herod Antipas.

Most of the residents of these places were pagans. In the Gospel, the Canaanite woman was a pagan. But Jesus would not refuse a request made with such tenacious faith like prayer recognizing Jesus as the Messiah. Even if she was a pagan, she believed in Jesus. She persistently expressed her need in clear and modest words. Even when obstacles or tests dawned on her, she persisted and was not dismayed. She expressed her request in all humility as she called out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David.” Her prayer was so great and I can relate to her situation whenever my faith is challenged, when I experience struggles, problems and worries.

I remember when I was still working, I experienced a big problem in my career when I did not know what to do and who to follow: my conscience or the system of the work. It was a real struggle and challenge in my Christian faith. I came to a point that I did not know where to go, I felt so helpless and weak. That experience led me not to rely on my own strength but to seek help in the Blessed Sacrament to find refuge in the presence of the Lord.

I believe that the invitation for me is to be like the Canaanite woman who prayed persistently and unceasingly, have a firm faith in the Lord, and trust in Jesus’ loving mercy which flows from His heart as the ocean of mercy for the whole world. Firm in faith, trust, perseverance and with all humility, let us be assured that our Lord Jesus Christ will hear our prayers, guide us in our lives and heal our sicknesses as He tells us, “ O my child (your name), great is your faith! Let it be done to you as you desire.” All is well in the presence of the Lord.

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