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.
Today’s Gospel is one of my favorites! Have you ever prayed about something, even desperately, and not heard one word from God in reply? Have you ever experienced what seemed to be a rebuff from the Lord – you not only did not receive a “yes” to your prayer, but perhaps something happened, circumstances of an already bad situation changed for the worse?! If this has happened to you, remember and meditate on this story. Keep in mind, Jesus is the Master, as the woman points out when they do exchange words. He is not ignoring her, and he is not going along with His disciples in their very human response to her, which is to try to get rid of the woman. However, for the sake of His technique, He is willing to let her, and them, think that this is what He is doing. He, as the Master, is leading her, He is drawing her further, allowing her to develop the virtues on display here – perseverance, reverence, and humility. And finally, He admires her great faith! Faith, as one of the theological virtues, is a gift from God. Jesus brought her to greater faith. And then, in His humility and joy, He praises her for this gift of faith that He Himself has given her and led her to, though she also cooperated by continuing to be open to Him. Now he can grant the favor that she was originally seeking – that of healing for her daughter. Because now she is open to it. And now, she understands that she is a mere beggar before Him, simply asking for the smallest of His gifts, because what He really wants to give her is simply Himself. However, this gift of Himself encompasses all other gifts. This story helps me to recall my own journey in faith, and that when I look back, I can so clearly see this leading and mastery at play in my life, and I can honestly say that every prayer has eventually been answered, every situation has been healed, is being healed, or is serving as a means of growth. With Christ, all has always worked out in a way more beautiful and beneficial to my spiritual growth than it ever would have been if He had simply snapped His fingers at my first request, and done what I asked. He is not a vending machine, or a genie in a bottle. He is the Master, and the Lover of our souls, and He will not grant us anything without considering our eternal wellbeing. Let us trust Him, let us not ever assume that the Lord is ignoring or rebuffing us, but let us thank Him for his ministry to us. In these days, this is how He leads us, washes our feet, and ministers to us. Let us be open to Him and all that He wants to teach us. Blessed be God, praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ! +++