The Tenacity of Faith

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Daily Reflection – 8/7/19

Sacred Scripture

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. (Matthew 15: 21-28)

Reflection

There is something so compelling about this woman’s faith, isn’t there? It is a faith that is inextricably linked with her care for her daughter, who is tormented. This woman’s love for her daughter leads her to take a risk – the risk of being rejected, of looking very foolish in the company of all these men. But she is able to perceive Jesus with the eyes of faith. She recognizes in him the life-giving presence and power of God. Her faith, coupled with her selfless care for her daughter, leads to the dissolution of the barrier between Jew and Gentile. Her persistent faith and loving care pave the way for an experience of communion and healing.

In our own lives, sometimes we persistently pray for something but do not receive exactly what we asked for from God. We beg the Lord for that perfect job, for a child’s success in school, for reconciliation in a dispute with a family member or friend, for the physical healing of a loved one who is seriously ill. Sometimes it seems that the Lord’s response is one of silence. That may lead us to conclude that our faith just is not strong enough, or perhaps that the Lord is not really listening to us at all. The truth is that we cannot fathom all of the dynamics of God’s response to our prayers. Even with the most astute theology, we cannot wrap our minds around the mystery of God’s action in our lives and in our world.

We are, however, invited to cling to one important conviction. I believe that this gospel passage speaks to us about that conviction. We can be sure that when we are impelled by loving care to pray for another person Christ does hear us. The faith imbued with love that is expressed in such a prayer will ultimately lead to communion and healing. It leads us to communion with Christ and to deeper communion with those we love. And it leads to new life, even in cases when a physical healing does not take place. It is new life that comes from the faithful presence of Christ with us. It leads to new life the full extent of which we will know only in eternal life with God.

The Canaanite woman is placed before us as a model of selfless love and of courageous, tenacious faith in Christ. She invites us to speak to Christ out of our love for others, and to do so with the faith that he does hear and does answer.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, your love and mercy knows no bounds. May I trust you always and pursue you with indomitable persistence as this woman did. Increase my faith in your saving power and deliver me for all evil and harm. 

Daily Note

On that day, Jesus saw a larger vision of the commonwealth of God. Jesus saw and heard a fuller revelation of God in the voice and in the face of the Canaanite woman. If Jesus could be changed, can we? Every generation sees some people as “other” and puts them under the table. The United States today is a country torn apart by division and by people pitted against people, the “others.”. How can any follower of Christ tolerate that? Aren’t we commanded to love one another, to build our love with one another, to see every person as a child of God? My heart aches that this fundamental  belief is so trampled upon.

 

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