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Challenging Faith, Powerful Prayer

Woman with her son
Canaanite Woman

Believing from the Other Side

Mt. 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 Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. Jesus' 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 Jesus 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 the woman's daughter was healed from that hour.

Believing from the Other Side

Have you ever found yourself looking through the glass, feeling like an outsider yearning to be heard? Today's Gospel plunges us into the story of the Canaanite woman, a stranger who challenges our perception of faith and the power of prayer.

Before looking at her story, I would like to share a little of the recent story of Oliver Anthony. He describes himself as a farmer with three dogs, who lives in Farmville, Virginia. He became famous overnight, thanks to the viral success of his song, “Rich Men North of Richmond.” His message resonates with those people who feel that their lives are worse off due to some powerful men and women who make decisions without taking them into account. That disenfranchisement is precisely what the Canaanite woman was feeling upon entering the world of the Jews.

As we delve into the Gospel passage, we're confronted by an enigmatic scene where Jesus seems distant from our conventional understanding of compassion. But perhaps this incongruity is an invitation for us to examine our preconceived notions of who Jesus is. Just as an unexpected collision in traffic forces us to engage with a stranger, this passage nudges us to meet Jesus for who He truly is, not for who we wish Him to be. It's in these surprising moments that we might just encounter the living God.

Relevance to today

Our faith is a journey of growth, an ongoing pursuit to uncover the genuine identity of Jesus Christ. This journey mirrors our constant desire to know and welcome the profound truths of life. Pope Benedict XVI aptly reminds us that faith is not an abstract concept but a relationship with a person, a deep love that yearns to infuse every aspect of our existence.

Faith opens us to knowing and welcoming the real identity of Jesus, his newness and oneness, his word, as a source of life, in order to live a personal relationship with him. Knowledge of the faith grows, it grows with the desire to find the way and in the end it is a gift of God who does not reveal himself to us as an abstract thing without a face or a name, because faith responds to a Person who wants to enter into a relationship of deep love with us and to involve our whole life. (Pope Benedict XVI, 14 August 2011)

Jesus is always new. We should not try to stick him in a box. He challenges us. How much are we living our faith?

Faith of the outsider

The Canaanite woman teaches us a lesson in faith. She approaches Jesus, not arrogantly, but with a trust grounded in the goodness of the one she implores. It's a stark contrast to our entitlement-driven world, where we often expect change without surrendering our trust. Her humble yet steadfast faith holds a mirror to our own attitudes.

When we feel that we are a part of community and we are built up by the brothers and sisters, it is easy to believe. But what happens when things get rough? Relationships get tense. We do not feel at home and welcomed. These are the moments when we have to grow deeper in faith.

Our commitment

Today, let's commit to embracing the unexpected, both in our perception of Jesus and in our daily lives. Let's be like the Canaanite woman, approaching with humility and unwavering trust. As we navigate the challenges of our world, remember that faith is a journey, a dance of growth and transformation. Together, let's embark on this journey with open hearts, ready to encounter the living God in the most unexpected of places.

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