18th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Jer 31:1-7
At that time, says the LORD, I will be the God of all the tribes of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus, says the LORD: The people that escaped the sword have found favor in the desert. As Israel comes forward to be given his rest, the LORD appears to him from afar: With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you. Again I will restore you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin Israel; Carrying your festive tambourines, you shall go forth dancing with the merrymakers. Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; those who plant them shall enjoy the fruits. Yes, a day will come when the watchmen will call out on Mount Ephraim: “Rise up, let us go to Zion, to the LORD, our God.” For thus says the LORD: Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say: The LORD has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel.
Gospel: 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 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.
LET IT BE DONE TO YOU AS YOU WISH:The healing of the daughter of the Canaanite woman has some similarities with that of a Centurion’s servant (8:5-15). Both are healing narratives related to the Gentiles. The Centurion requests healing for his servant and the Canaanite woman for her daughter. They win over Jesus by their clever words and unwavering faith that became model for the succeeding generation of believers until today. The conversation that ensues between Jesus and the woman illustrates the unwavering and assertive faith of the woman, making Jesus acknowledge and appreciate her faith and heal her daughter instantly. The negativity that is present in the words of Jesus seems to be a device used by the evangelist to bring out the lively faith of the Canaanite woman. Ultimately, it is faith that brings salvation. It is true that Israel is God’s chosen people but salvation is not closed to others.
Prayer: Lord I believe that you are the healer of all deadly sicknesses.
FAITH CONQUERS: In life there are many upsets and unmet dreams. Expectations are often far beyond the reality. During political campaigns, politicians give promises of an ideal and better future only for the people to realize it was a strategy for winning an election. The children of Israel expected that their take over in Canaan would be devoid of struggles. But after the spies gave their report, they felt cheated and discouraged just like we feel after elections. Yet we see that those who keep the faith, will survive like Joshua and Caleb. In the gospel we see a woman who had a similar spirit like that of Caleb and Joshua. Even after Jesus ignoring her and the disciples desiring to send her away, she kept the faith and received her miracle. We must remain faithful and trusting even during challenging times.
***** HOPE AND DESPAIR: Prayer is a means through which we express ourselves to God. The Canaanite woman got such an opportunity to be with Jesus. Her demoniac possessed daughter was causing her sleepless nights. Jesus’ disciples wanted her sent away. There was some “reluctance” from Jesus in granting her request. She pressed on and nothing could stop her. Not even her gender or tribal difference. She recognized that she had nowhere else to turn to except clinging to Jesus. There are situations in life where one has to take courage by refusing to take “no” for an answer to a desperate need. Most of us find themselves in similar situation as the Canaanite woman. Families are suffering different challenges like illness and with high hospital bills. Some lack employment and school fees. This is the moment that one needs to cling to Jesus and pray earnestly with firm faith. Prayer is persevering in trust and patience to wait for God’s time.