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INDOMITABLE FAITH

Father Francis's picture
Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Jer. 31:1-7 & Mt. 15:21-28

This passage from Jeremiah has always been one of my favourites because of those beautiful words of God, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Yes, there are times when life is hard, problems seem insurmountable and perhaps we feel unloved or unappreciated - it is then we can recall these assuring words of God our Father. If no one else loves us, He does. They are words to boost our drooping spirits!

Jeremiah is speaking of a kind of ‘homecoming’ when all the tribes of Israel will be gathered together around the Lord. It will be a time of great happiness. There will be dancing and music amid flourishing vineyards. It is confirmation that God does not forsake His own people.

We can admire the courage, faith and persistence shown by the Canaanite woman in today's Gospel reading. As a Gentile and a woman, she was not someone with whom a good Jewish teacher would associate, as she was no doubt well aware. Yet her need was greater than any fears or scruples she may have had about approaching Jesus. It is also remarkable that she believed in His power to heal her daughter and addressed Him as 'Lord' - signs of more faith than Jesus had encountered in many of the Jews although they had seen His miracles and heard Him preach. He did not respond at first and the disciples asked Him to send her away.

He told her that He was only sent to help the Jews, but it did not dissuade her. Showing her faith and humility, she knelt before Him and asked for His help. Jesus' reply would have been enough to discourage most, but she came up with a shrewd answer. He was impressed not just because it was clever but because of the attitude it showed. She did not deny that she was not one of the children of Israel but was humble enough to accept this fact, and to claim only the scraps from the table knowing, in faith, that even a scrap of Jesus' abundant powers would be enough to heal her daughter.

Jesus wants us all to have this sort of untiring faith and persistence in approaching Him. If our prayers are to be as urgent as those of the Canaanite woman we need to understand how much we need Him. With this sort of understanding and the same urgent desire to be healed, we will pray to Jesus day and night to help and bless us. The woman was not sure if a Jewish teacher would help her, but we know that our loving Saviour welcomes all who come to Him and longs to pour out His blessings on us. At times it may seem as if our prayers meet with no response, but this is when we should persist in them all the more.

Lord Jesus, when we are in the grip of adversity, help us not to be like the Israelites complaining and ungrateful, but like the Gentile woman You helped, trusting that You will look after us and never desert us.

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