August 17, 2014
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
How can we not love the woman in today’s Gospel? No doubt, Jesus came first to restore the kingdom to Israel. But His ultimate mission was clearly the reconciliation of the world, as Paul declares to the Romans. Jesus’ disciples did not yet understand this latter truth. In today’s Gospel, we see both Isaiah’s prophecy and the promise we sing of in today’s Psalm, fulfilled. In Jesus, God makes known among all the nations His way and His salvation. In other words, God’s plan set in motion through Abraham, the Father of Many Nations, was that Israel would be the firstborn of a worldwide family of God. This comes to fruition in today’s encounter, over the objections of Jesus’ disciples.
In today’s drama between the Canaanite woman and Jesus and His disciples, all true sons of Israel, we witness a representative from the lost nations coming back. She recognizes and shows her great faith in God’s covenant with Israel, God’s firstborn. Jesus tests this faith three times to strengthen her resolve and to instruct His disciples. First, He refuses to answer her cry. But she, unlike Peter in last week’s Gospel who lost his focus, has fortitude and does not give up. Then Jesus tells her that His mission is only to the Israelites to which she responds with an even greater act of faith by paying Him homage. Finally, Jesus uses an epithet used in His day by Israelites to disparage non-Israelites. But she is undaunted and humbly persists in her request. Three times she is tested, and she prevails in her faith. “Great is your faith,” Jesus tells her. With faith, fortitude and humility she and her daughter are saved. Through faith, she finds joy in God’s house!
This Canaanite woman is our hero! For are we not also foreigners, non-Israelites? Have we not also “joined ourselves to the Lord, ministering to Him, loving the name of the Lord, and becoming His servants who keep the Sabbath free from profanation, holding to His covenant,” as Isaiah describes us? Are we not also made joyful in God’s house as we offer an acceptable sacrifice on God’s altar? Even within the confines of our own lives, have we not gotten lost at times? This great witness of faith today, this wonderful courageous woman shows us how to successfully approach God, through faith, fortitude and humility. “Have pity on me, Lord. Lord, help me.” May we remain undaunted in our pursuit of a personal-intimate relationship with God! It is our salvation!
Catechism Question of the Week: Which of the following is NOT one of the spiritual effects of Penance?
A. reconciliation with the Church
B. reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace
C. remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins
D. remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin
E. peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation
F. an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle
With family, friends and those you meet, please discuss the following Question of the Week: What does it mean to me to say that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God?
In Christ’s Peace,