The Gospel Today
Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus went to the district of Tyre.
He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it,
but he could not escape notice.
Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him.
She came and fell at his feet.
The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth,
and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter.
He said to her, “Let the children be fed first.
For it is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She replied and said to him,
“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”
Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go.
The demon has gone out of your daughter.”
When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed
and the demon gone.
Reflection (Sem. Alfredo Dimaano, Jr.):
Pope Francis, in his twitter account posted: “Faith is the measure of love”. Today’s reading narrates that faith rooted in love exemplified by the Syrophoenician woman. To see things in a clearer perspective, it is noteworthy to know that the woman who is a Greek leads us to a Gentile setting. The figure of a household, in which, children are fed first and then their leftover food is given to the dogs under the table, is used to acknowledge the primacy of the Jews to the ministry of Jesus.
Surprisingly, moved with mercy and astounded with the great faith of the woman, who does not even belong to Israel, Jesus acceded to her plea and eventually cured her daughter afflicted with unclean spirit. This incident proves the universality of the Lordship of Jesus that even those are not descendants of Abraham are also part of His dominion. In addition, faith can truly move anyone’s heart.
To simply say that the woman has faith would not suffice. It is a faith rooted in love for another, in this case, the love of a mother to her child. I can dare say that only those who love can have such tremendous belief for they will do everything, even to believe in one whom they do not even know much about. The woman in the Gospel loved much. She was able to do such an act: forgetting who she is and not minding if she would be recognized by Jesus knowing her affiliation. Persistence leads to faith; and faith, in time, moves one to love perfectly. One who loves gives his all to the one that he loves. Saint Josemaria Escriva once said that a man is worth what his heart is worth. In terms of faith, the Syrophoenician woman then, must have really possessed a heart most worthy of Jesus’ attention. Her prostration in front of Jesus shows that she recognizes the power of someone greater that anyone else which is a sign of humility. When one kneels down to the Lord, it leads one to acknowledge who he is in front of God and who God is for him. My mother, prayerful as she is, I know, pleads like the woman in the Gospel narrative and God has blessed her abundantly because of her faith—simple but true, humble but sincere.
On another note, in 2021, the Church in the Philippines will be celebrating the fifth centenary of its becoming a Christian country as it commemorates the celebration of the first Mass in this land in 1521.Our country too was like a Gentile country before, not belonging to the people where salvation was initially promised. But our country has grown much in faith that we are regarded to be the beacon of light in Asia and the world. Everywhere we go, especially our OFWs, they bring with them our faith thus evangelizing other nations, especially in Europe.
The then Pope John Paul II, on May 17, 1987, in his homily during the Mass for Filipinos in St. Peter’s Basilica, told the Filipino audience: “Indeed, in Europe you are called to be the new and youthful witness of that very faith which your country received from Europe so many generation ago.” I believe, that we must re-define OFW not only as a worker, but as “Overseas Faith Witnesses”. Because of the belief of the Filipino people, God has bestowed on us enumerable favors, grace upon grace: the greatest of which is its faith in God. Once we were a people so close to be Gentiles, but now, as we have been faithful, even if we have received only the “leftovers and scraps”, we have received from God His mercy and goodness. We are now challenged to share to other peoples who are yet to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior what we have received in faith.
Going back to the twitter post of our Supreme Pontiff (“Faith is the measure of love.”), I was moved by it and so I decided to repost it in my facebook account. My brother made a comment by paraphrasing it, saying: “Love is the measure of faith”. I could not help but agree. Amen.